The House of Senate has given green light to the Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill that empowers President Emmerson Mnangagwa to deploy details of the army in the event of a violent protest breaking out.
Giving an update Deputy Government Spokesperson Energy Mutodi said, "The Maintenance of Peace and Order bill has been tabled in the Senate with most senators in support of the bill especially the clause that allows the President to deploy the army in the event of violent protests. Conveners of violent protests will also be liable if property is damaged."
"We have an opposition that is very imaginative in trying to create anarchy and to portray the government as violent … As a young democracy we are learning but we don't need to be punished for following our learning curve," Mutodi said.
Government has argued that the successor law to the Public Order and Security Act (Posa), which will be promulgated soon, will further open up democratic space by entrenching the right to demonstrate and present petitions, among other far-reaching freedoms that Government is determined to promote.
It is believed that the Maintenance of Peace and Order (Mopo) Bill will also align the law to several Constitutional Court rulings that outlawed Section 27 of Posa, which allows police to issue a temporary prohibition order on holding of public demonstrations in cases where there is a likelihood for public violence.
Zanu-PF legislators sat through the night last Thursday, debating the Maintenance of Peace and Order (MOPA) Bill but still came up with a law that the opposition MDC has come short of describing as a darker version of the old vilified Public Order and Security Act it is supposed to replace.
In an angry statement Tuesday, MDC secretary for justice and legal affairs Innocent Gonese said the ruling party had regarded concerns from the opposition especially around the role of police and civil liability, adding POSA's successor could be more toxic despite the existence of a wider of Bill of Rights in the country's Constitution.
"The mischief of POSA lies in the abuse of the powers bestowed on the regulating authority which has largely been left intact and the criminalisation of the failure to give notice, it gives us no comfort to note that the police have not been transformed into a service and they still behave as a force," said Gonese.