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Breaking News: Parliament calls for Public Meetings during lock down

Harare- Zimbabwe's Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs will roll out public consultations on the second amendment of the country's constitution despite  Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) Regulations, 2020 that limit public movement, gatherings of more than 50 persons as well as imposition of social distancing.



According to Section 2 sub section 3 of the  Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) Regulations, 2020, " Any person partaking at a gathering or convener thereof who— (a) partakes in or convenes a gathering knowing that such gathering is prohibited in terms of subsection (1); or (b) refuses to disperse from a gathering after being ordered to disperse in terms of subsection (2)(a); or (c) refuses to observe the social distancing rule after being ordered to do so in terms of subsection (2)(b); shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level twelve or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year to both such fine and such imprisonment.

Violation of these regulations carries a fine of at least RTGS$500.

However, in a notice released by the Speaker of Parliament on 8 May 2020, Parliament is inviting members of the public to participate in public meetings for the purposes of consultations. These consultative meetings will be held at 18 out of 210 constituencies across Zimbabwe. Participants to these meetings are expected to travel to the central venues amidst heavy restrictions on travel. On 4 May 2020, the state run Herald newspaper, reported that 1,312 people had been arrested in 24 hours for flouting regulations aimed at containing the spread of the COVID-19. National police spokesperson Paul Nyathi was quoted saying, "most of the people who were arrested violated the ban on public gatherings while some of them were not wearing face masks."

In April 2020, Police operatives beat and injured sisters Ntombizodwa and Nokuthula Mpofu in Bulawayo's Cowdray Park suburb after they were found walking from the nearest shops.

Several Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance leaders like Lynnette Karenyi, Tendai Biti, Obey Sithole, Netsai Marova, Cecilia Chimbiri, Joanna Mamombe, Gladys Hlatywayo, Lovemore Chinoputsa, Vongai Tome and Womberaiishe Nhende have been arrested and fined for allegedly violating COVID 19 regulations on public gatherings.

However, government Ministers and officials of both ZANU PF and MDC T party have been allowed to do cross country travels where they have been holding meetings with more people than permitted under COVID-19 Regulations.

It remains to be seen if these restrictions will be relaxed to allow citizens to travel to these meetings. However, public health commentator Dananai Bvute cautioned that "Given the astronomic rise in the infection cases in the country over the past fortnight, it is ill advised for Parliament to call for public gatherings. It is either they are oblivious to this fact or they deliberately want to conduct these consultations with very minimal attendance".

Content created and supplied by: Loghanncube (via Opera News )

Breaking News Committee on Harare- Zimbabwe

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