By Moses Matenga
Opposition MPs have demanded that President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF party should face reality and stop persecuting civil rights activists and introducing draconian laws like the Patriotic Bill.
The legislators made the call in the National Assembly on Tuesday after Mberengwa South MP Alum Mpofu (Zanu PF) moved a motion, which was seconded by the Zanu PF chief whip Pupurai Togarepi, for the enactment of the Patriotic Bill.
Zanu PF is pushing for the Patriotic Bill to criminalise people who speak ill about the country to outsiders, particularly the West.
Opposition MPs said Zanu PF was spearheading terror campaigns against divergent voices, looting the country’s resources, and should not expect victims of terror to speak positively about their country.
Hwange Central MP Daniel Molokele (MDC Alliance) said he was disappointed by the motion, adding that patriotism should not be foisted on citizens.
“This talk about patriotism is misplaced and it should not be allowed to continue in this Parliament, in my view,” he said.
“I am very disappointed that we are still focusing on such issues when we have got political prisoners in this country.
“We have got civil society activists who have been arrested and denied bail in this country for standing up for the truth or being the true patriots.”
Mutasa Central MP Trevor Saruwaka (MDC Alliance) said Zimbabwe attained a “bad boy image” after cold-blooded murders were perpetrated on opposition activists.
He said there was also documented looting of the country’s resources, among other vices.
“So if we are, indeed, serious, we should not focus on wanting people to say good about us, but we should simply do good,” Saruwaka said.
“The very act, Mr Speaker Sir, of a whole ruling party MP seconded by his chief whip moving a draconian motion is not a good signal of a country whose leadership seeks to bring happiness to its people, but a further reason to invite closer scrutiny on this regime.
“The world has ears and eyes. We must just act positively and well so that we get a good reputation and not for people to speak well about our bad acts.”
Saruwaka said the international community should keep Zimbabwe under the radar, adding “the truth will set this country free”.
Proportional representation MP Jasmine Toffa (MDC Alliance) said patriotism should not be forced on people.
“This motion is a direct infringement of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, sections 61 and 62; freedom of expression. As the previous speaker who spoke just now has said, you cannot force anyone to love you,” Toffa said.
Zengeza West MP Job Sikhala (MDC Alliance) said: “We must discuss human rights abuses of our citizens that are arrested and abused at every given turn, and how we should move forward as a nation.”
Kambuzuma MP Willias Madzimure (MDC Alliance) said government should ensure that there is democratic space in the country, where people can freely participate in different activities.
“We have people like Savior Kasukuwere (former Local Government minister), and Jonathan Moyo (former Higher Education minister), they cannot come to Zimbabwe, but they used to be ministers defending Zimbabwe. What do they say about Zimbabwe when they are out there? You have Patrick Zhuwao (former Youth minister), his farm is gone. How do you explain it? These are the issues that you have to deal with,” he said
Norton MP Temba Mliswa (Independent) said: “Inconsistency in terms of policy is what also makes us not to get the money we want. I repeat that Zimbabwe does not need any Western allies. Zimbabwe needs to dig deep into its resources and curb corruption and we shall need no Western ally.
“The very same government today is re-engaging with the West, spending more money paying lobbyists for us to re-engage with the West yet sanctions are there. Different strokes for different folks. Why do we speak with a forked tongue then blame the opposition for speaking to the West, but you are in the same line marching to see who pleases the master?”
Mliswa said the country’s Constitution was not being adhered to, adding that the new dispensation should not forget that the late former President Robert Mugabe was impeached for the same reason. NewsDay.