Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Criminal Law Bill sails through

Criminal Law Bill sails through

Thursday, 10 February 2011 20:17

Paidamoyo Muzulu

THE Senate has passed the Criminal Law Amendment (Protection of Power,
Communication and Water Infrastructure) Bill that will among other things
allow police detention of accused persons up to 21 days before they are
brought before the courts for a hearing.
The act that sailed through the National Assembly in December last year was
passed on Tuesday without any amendments by the upper house.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who steered the Bill through Senate,
said the law was intended to curtail acts of vandalism of power,
broadcasting and water installations across the country.

“This law is principled on trying to curtail acts of vandalism perpetrated
on public utilities such as National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ),” Chinamasa
said. “No bail should be granted to suspects facing charges of vandalism of
these essential installations and police will have powers to detain accused
persons for 21 days before bringing them to court.”

Equipment covered in the act against vandalism include electricity cables,
transformers, broadcasting equipment and water pumps and other associated

“Vandalism of these installations has a negative effect on the economy,” the
minister said, “In the past there was no penalty for vandalising
broadcasting equipment. Convicted persons will be sentenced to prison for up
to five years or fined up to level 14.”

Most of the vandalised equipment was trafficked to neighbouring countries as
scrap metal and sold cheaply. The law would allow the state to confiscate
and forfeit any equipment that is found in possession of the accused.

“People will need special police clearance certificates to transport
equipment such as water pumps, transformers, aluminum electricity cables and
broadcasting equipment,” the minister said. “Transport used to ferry the
stolen equipment will also be confiscated and forfeited to the state.”
The Senate also passed three other Bills during the same sitting. These are
the Attorney-General’s Office Bill, Zimbabwe National Security Council
Amendment Bill and Energy Regulatory Authority Amendment Bill.

These acts will see the Attorney-General’s Office becoming more independent
as it will now have its own board and separate financial allocation from the
national budget. National Security Council Amendment Bill was meant to
include the minister of Justice into the council and remove minister of
State Security in the President’s Office into the political category of the
act from technocratic category and the Energy Regulatory Bill sought to
create a single energy regulatory framework instead of the present two, the
Electricity Regulation Commission and the Petroleum Regulatory Authority.

The Bills now await the President’s assent before they become law.

Meanwhile, Senate did not deal with the Posa amendment Bill amid indications
that Zanu PF senators were ready to shoot down the Bill after they received
party instructions to that effect.

“We will not pass that Posa Bill. It’s as good as dead,” confirmed one
senior Zanu PF senator, “We cannot be seen to pass that law to allow the MDC
to cause anarchy in the country.”


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