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Government to amend Public Order and Security Act

(MISA/IFEX) - The Government has conceded to the demands made by Zimbabweans to amend the Public Order and Security Act (POSA).

Since its inception in 2000, POSA has been used by the ruling party to infringe on the fundamental right to freedom of association, and has been selectively applied to prohibit opposition party rallies and civic organisation meetings. This has been viewed as an act of blatant disregard to the right to freedom of expression and association within a democratic society.

POSA also created the offence of "insulting the President."

In 2005, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa, declared outright that the government had no intention of amending this Act as it was a worthy tool in curbing the activities of those who want to effect regime change.

In early 2007, State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa also stated that he wished that both POSA and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) would remain on the statute books as they are written for the next 1 000 years.

Whilst the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe appreciates the latest developments in the hope that this will help enhance freedom of expression and association as stated in section 20 of the Zimbabwean Constitution, MISA Zimbabwe renews its call for the total repeal of repressive legislation. Cosmetic changes, which are normally brought in by amendments, often do nothing in ensuring that Zimbabweans enjoy their constitutionally guaranteed rights.

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