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Zimbabwe: Reform of Public Order Act Considered

(Dec. 14, 2010) On December 8, 2010, Zimbabwe's Parliament passed amendments to the country's Public Order and Security Act (Public Order and Security Act No. 1 of 2002, Cap. 11:17, (Harare, Government Printer, 2002)) that would remove from the police the authority to ban public meetings, giving it to magistrates instead. In addition, the change would repeal the clause that penalized citizens for not carrying IDs. The reform, considered a victory for the Movement for Democratic Change- Tsvangirai Party, is designed to lessen the repressive nature of the Act. The bill of amendment must now be passed by the Senate and approved by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe before it can come into effect. (Mernat Mafirakurewa, Major Victory for MDC-T, NEWSDAY ONLINE (Harare) (Dec. 8, 2010),; Hanibal Goitom, Zimbabwe: Bill Proposed to Diminish Police Role in Regulating Public Gatherings, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Feb. 12, 2010), //

A key goal of the bill was to ensure that citizens can exercise their rights of peaceful assembly and association. In addition, if it comes into force, the revised Act will require police to write detailed reports following any use of force to disperse a gathering or prevent public disorder at a gathering. The reports must describe the circumstances in which it was necessary to use force, the type of force used, the names of the officers involved, and any deaths, injuries, or damaged caused. (Mafirakurewa, supra.)

The Deputy Minister of Women's Affairs and Community Development, Jessie Majome, praised the passage of the amendments, calling it progress on the “path of democracy and freedom of association” and adding ,”[i]t's a welcome development especially coming two days before the country celebrate[s] International Human Rights Day.” (Id.)