By Lloyd Takawira
Dubbed old wine in new bottle, The Maintenance of Peace and Order Act has been heavily criticized as a duplication of the old draconian LOMA Act which superintended the media during the colonial era
Media practitioners and legal experts have been on record condemning what they termed “a copy cat” of the POSA act
Maintenance of Peace and Order will replace the Public Order and Security Act (POSA). MOPA is part of government’s plans to align laws with the Constitution.
Legal expert Chris Mhike said “MOPA law is wholly unsatisfactory and is a remarkably inadequate solution to the flaws of POSA”.
“The proposed changes to POSA under MOPA are largely trivial and clerical. For instance: the term “Police Force” in POSA is changed to “Police Service” under MOPA; and MOPA revises the reference to “facsimile numbers” in POSA to now read as “cell phone and electronic mail numbers” under the proposed new law,” Nhike said.
Mhike said MOPA Bill has failed to enhance the possibility of citizens enjoying civil liberties that are enshrined in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. “Nothing in MOPA seriously advances the right to personal security, freedom to demonstrate and petition, freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, or other pertinent rights and freedoms that are outlined in Chapter 4 of our Constitution,” he said.
Legal and Parliamentary think tank Veritas said the provisions of the MOPA Act were copied from POSA adding that all undemocratic features had been retained. “For example, in clause 5 (8) of the Bill the police will still be entitled to ask political parties for lists of members
Veritas said in its analysis of the MOPA Act. “As in section 25 of POSA, the notice will have to specify details such as ‘the exact and complete route’ of a procession or demonstration and ‘the number and types of vehicles, if any’, that are to take part in the procession.
Anyone who fails to give notice will be guilty of a criminal offence and liable to imprisonment for up to a year.” Clause 12 of the Bill entails that if the police are not given notice of a gathering, the conveners will be civilly liable for any damage or injury occasioned by any public disorder or breach of the peace occurring at the gathering,