9th Parliamentbills

MOPA, ED’s Goodbye Act to Post-Coup Optimism

By Wisdom Mumera

President Mnangagwa has always been a practical politician, majoring on clandestine machinations on the ground characterized by loud silence and, as has been happening, this contrasts against his acute inability for finesse.

The politician has no sleight of hand and thrives on a heavy hidden hand preying upon your fears of silence, darkness and the uncertainty that comes with dealing with a smiling guerilla with awkward jokes.

The coup itself was the epitome of his practical nature, a military-heavy move never experienced in this country before and using the political fickleness and harlotry nature of ZANU members assumed office legitimately later.

Post-coup Mnangagwa had a fleeting period of indulging the fantasies of everyone else, wishing and hoping for re-engagement into the global village, sweeping away unjust laws and opening up the democratic space for every activist and politician.

Against the background of previous episodes, the 2018 elections were held in a candy-floss cloud of gayness and freedom.

For a moment Zimbabwe was the ostracized nation returning from years in the wilderness shorn of its dictator and now headed by a former junior out to start anew, build from the relic and become what everyone else dreamed about in 1980.

However having failed to build upon the goodwill that flooded us after removing Mugabe, President Mnangagwa’s government has steered a new course whose symbolic act in years to come maybe the passing of the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act (MOPA).

Experts have been unequivocal about what MOPA is or where it is coming from.

It’s straight outta Suid-Afrika. Ultra-Vorster. Ultra-Botha. Pre Mandela. Pre-Sharpeville. It’s Gung-ho apartheid by black faces.

Whereas Mugabe accepted and for two decades used the genetically apartheid Law and Order Maintenance Act (LOMA), later giving it a black face through POSA, in MOPA Mnangagwa has gone historical and re-enacted LOMA again making the New Dispensation an old era.

MOPA is also tragically funny.

A secretary for an organization who writes a letter notifying police about a demonstration is criminally and civilly liable for anything that happens at that demonstration.

How is that even logical when the laws of the land are clear that organizations can be sued in their capacity?

Organizations are body corporates with perpetual succession and in their own names can sue and be sued. So why foist upon a single individual the weight of the bigger whole?

It’s clear that this law is manufactured with specific persons and organizations in mind making it a frenetic piece of self-aggrandizement and preservation never to survive open democratic debates and bound to die out just like POSA, with no conviction under its name.

However, the bigger issue about MOPA is that it’s the New Dispensation’s ultimate middle finger to all the idealists who dared to hope in the aftermath of Mugabe hoping that new things were upon us.

It’s a go-and-hang retort to all the thoughts of democracy, open society, freedom of association and assembly and an open welcome to the old patterns.

In MOPA the Mnangagwa government has tried at being clever by half, ‘reforming’ into existence a piece of legislation that borrows whole clauses from pre-94 South Africa.

Debating in Parliament Douglas Mwonzora captured the points clearly.

“Very fundamental parts of this Bill borrow heavily from South African legislation and the South African legislation in question is called the Regulation of Public Gatherings Act.  205 of 1993 and I want this House to remember that South Africa got its independence in 1994.

“So this piece of legislation is an apartheid piece of legislation.  We duplicated it word for word for example; Section 2 of the apartheid regulation is Section 5 of MOPO.  Section 4 is Section 8, Section 6 is Section 11, Section 7 is Section 10, and Section 9 is Section 13”.

The new Boers today are the ruling elites and everyone else has been reduced into some 21st-century kaffir, same skin and same totems but an inferior class.

With this law Mnangagwa is no longer aspiring for any higher ground and different culture of rule, he has resorted to seat and enjoy the fruits of his November 2017 practical actions.

MOPA is the closing chapter to any lingering doubts as to the kind of new government running the country, it’s the flipside of Mugabe, only worse.

The opposition, which had laid out a list of demonstrations across the country is currently coming face to face with Mnangagwa’s hard hand.

Using the courts and the police he has been blocking them one by one and this will be the true test of what kind of politician Nelson Chamisa is.

Is he all sermon, brash talk, and verses or he can go beyond the dictionary and do something revolutionary on the ground?

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Wisdom Mumera

A journalist by trade, a writer by birth.

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