BY SAMUEL MUNGADZE
JOHANNESBURG- Zimbabwe Constitutional Court has outlawed section 27 of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), which prohibits demonstrations without clearance from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
The repressive Act was enacted at the peak of former President Robert Mugabe.
Constitutional Court Justice Rita Makarau handed down the judgment yesterday saying only a despotic regulating authority could lawfully invoke these powers without end.
The declaration of invalidity has been suspended for six months, giving the authorities time to amend the legislation.
Section 27 of POSA stipulates that: “Temporary prohibition of holding public demonstrations within particular police districts can be made if a regulating authority for any area believes on reasonable grounds that there might be public disorder”.
This, Justice Makarau said can be only a despotic regulating authority could l invoke such powers.
“In addition to failing to pass the test on fairness, necessity and reasonableness, there is another feature of section 27 of Posa that I find disturbing. It has no time frame or limitation as to the number of times the regulating authority can invoke the powers granted to him or her under the section,” Justice Makarau said.
She said further: “Thus, a despotic regulating authority could lawfully invoke these powers without end. This could be achieved by publishing notices prohibiting demonstrations back-to-back as long as each time the period of the ban is for one month or less. It, thus, has the potential of negating or nullifying the rights not only completely, but perpetually.
Civic groups and opposition parties had for years been calling for the repeal of the draconian law, alleging it was being used unfairly to thwart freedom of assembly as guaranteed by the Constitution.
The judgement was handed after an application by the Democratic Assembly for Restoration and Empowerment (Dare), National Vendors’ Union of Zimbabwe (Navuz) chairperson Stendrick Zvorwadza, Combined Harare Residents’ Association (CHRA) and National Election Reform Agenda (Nera) in May this year.