A law to sanitize the nefarious Robert Mugabe school of spying which targets the opposition, business people and diplomats for clandestine surveillance has been rushed through parliament without any public consultation, in violation of the law, it emerged.
Defence minister Sidney Sekeramayi last week ensured that the proposed law known as the National Defence University Bill was fast-tracked through the second and third reading stages in one afternoon to prevent critics from making their input. The bill was brought to the National Assembly on Tuesday March 1 and appears to have blindsided most MPs.
Chairperson of Parliament’s defence and home affairs committee, Ronald Muderedzwa (Zanu PF, Buhera Central) confirmed that public hearings were not held, in violation of section 141 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which says Parliament must “facilitate public involvement in its legislative and other processes and in the processes of its committees”.
“Your Committee had an itinerary drawn up to cover seven provinces of the country namely, Mashonaland East, Manicaland, Masvingo, Matabeleland South, Bulawayo, Midlands and Mashonaland West. In this process, your Committee intended to consult as many stakeholders as possible. However, owing to critical resource constraints, consultations were rendered impracticable. Your Committee, therefore, had to rely on consultations held with the Ministry of Defence,” Muderedzwa told the National Assembly while rooting for the bill to be passed.
Instead, the committee only held one meeting with defence ministry officials led by the permanent secretary Martin Rushwaya. Military officials accompanying Rushwaya were Major General S. B. Moyo, the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) Chief of Staff and president of the so-called Transformation Board at the National Defence College (NDC), Air Vice Marshal M. T. Moyo, the Commandant at the Defence College, Group Captain A. V. M. Murove, the Director for Prosecutions and Major S. Tauya who is a legal advisor.
The bill passed the third reading without amendments.
The Mugabe spy school, also known as the National Defence College was established in Mazowe and installed with a $5 million supercomputer by the Chinese army to hack into the communications of opposition officials, prominent business people, diplomats and other targets of the regime. Critics of the secretive development were surprised when opposition MDC-T officials on the defence committee, Gift Chimanikire and Prosper Mutseyami supported the Bill without questioning the motive of legalizing the spy centre.
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