Zimbabwe: Legislators Must Tread Carefully On Posa, Aippa

Freedom of press.
24 December 2018
editorial

Government has mooted the idea of amending two critical laws: AIPPA and POSA. This is in response to calls for deeper political reforms from local, foreign-funded non-governmental organisations and their principal funders in the Western world.

There is a patronising attitude that we don't know democracy or what is good for our nation.

The latter attitude by the West bids our Legislature to tread carefully on the proposed reforms or repeal of both pieces of legislation, lest we over-oblige and over-indulge.

We all love democracy, but it can't be overemphasised this is a nebulous neo-liberal concept which demands a lot of responsibility from all those who want to enjoy it.

It demands maturity on the part of politicians and citizens. That is why democracy cannot be imposed on a people; it must grow organically as a nation matures and prospers economically. It is not entirely fortuitous that President Mnangagwa has said the economy must lead the politics.

It is in this context that the debate on amending or repealing AIPPA and POSA should not lose a sense of perspective and proportion in pursuit of some hazy ideal, as if any nation can claim to have arrived.

It's also not lost on us that this democracy jihadism by the West has always been part of the broader regime change agenda. That agenda has not changed a bit; will not change any time soon, at least so long as Zimbabwe has a liberation movement in power; a liberation movement which spearheaded the reclamation of its stolen land.

Such a movement needs to be strong on matters of national interest and get its priorities right. AIPPA and POSA were introduced in response to a national exigency at the time.

Like any law, including the biblical 10 Commandments, legislation is a response to wayward human behaviour.

It is noteworthy that the mooted changes to AIPPA and POSA have a taken on a sharp focus since the July 30 elections, and more recently, following the release of the Motlanthe Commission report on the August 1 violence in Harare. America has even taken over from the MDC Alliance and civic society groups the role of chief activist, listing such reforms among preconditions for purported desire to remove its deadly sanctions law, Zidera. Only the most naïve and gullible would believe such cheap propaganda.

The painful reality is that Zidera is about land. That is at the heart of so-called property rights.

It's fortunate that the debate on POSA and AIPPA comes while we are still witnessing the destructive so-called "yellow vests" demonstrations in France.

The demonstrations began in Paris more than four weeks ago and have spread to other parts of the country.

Here is clear evidence of democracy failing its people. France seems not to have laws sufficiently strong to protect innocent citizens and property. Its laws even expose its law enforcement agencies to grave danger from marauding mobs who have chosen the route of total anarchy to press their demands.

That can't be the way a majority of Zimbabweans want to go to appease those who want to make the country ungovernable.

In this context, our legislators will need to take a sober look at both AIPPA and POSA.

What must be removed is what could be described as "disproportionate force" in handling a violent situation.

The purpose of a law should be such that the State can deploy its police power to neutralise any threat in the shortest time and with minimum destruction to humans and property. It's not about police engaging in "running battles" with rioters.

Punishment for those who break or disregard the law for political reasons must be swift and condign. We have a democratically-elected Government, enjoying a full five-year mandate from a majority of the voters.

More importantly, we are a constitutional democracy. Laws should be repealed or amended only to the extent that they are ultra vires the nation Constitution. But where the constitution itself proves to be inadequate to guarantee the security of all its citizens, it might need to be amended to the degree of such inadequacy.

We can build a more prosperous Zimbabwe faster working together than promulgating laws that promote divisions and anarchy.

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