By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Politics |
A motion for the Patriotic Bill, a legislation set to criminalise and impose stiff penalties on citizens who openly criticise the government, has been described as “fascist, mistimed and misplaced” by opposition MDC Alliance MP for Hwange, Fortune Daniel Molokele.
Cabinet last year announced that the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs would table the Patriot Bill in Parliament, after it had approved the principles of the bill.
Making his contribution to debate on the proposed Patriotic Bill in Parliament last week, Molokele blasted President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration for failing to prioritise “nation building”.
He added that the government “cannot legislate and dictate patriotism.”
“I think for me the starting point is that I need to be clear that I do not support this motion. I think this motion is mistimed and misplaced
“As Zimbabweans, we should focus on nation building. We should focus on things that unite us as a people. Whilst we want to build this nation together, we do not need to have Parliament debating something like a Patriotism Bill because if all is indeed going well, then everyone will be happy and everyone will be proud to be associated with this country. In my view, those who have moved this motion have put the cart before the horse.
“There are a lot of unresolved issues in this country that need to be addressed by this Parliament. If it is indeed the people’s Parliament, it must be sensitive to the reality of the issues on the ground.
“For us to debate this kind of motion is a very disappointing situation for the Parliament of Zimbabwe,” he said.
Molokele added: “You cannot preach patriotism to them. You need to address the situation on the ground. Today in Zimbabwe, mining investments are being done and in my constituency Hwange Central, we have got investors coming, imposing themselves and defying the local community and you want those people to become patriotic.
“When they see someone from China being given special treatment by their own Government at their expense, their culture, history, heritage and you want to force them to be patriotic.
“There are mistakes that are being made right now by the political leadership of this country. Moral mistakes around corruption, gender based violence, sexual harassment and all these issues are being allowed to happen and people are being allowed to go scot free.
“If people try to go onto the streets to raise concern about these unpatriotic acts by our political leaders, it is those who are protesting who are being incarcerated and it is them who are demonstrating in line with Section 59 of the Constitution of this country who are being denied bail for weeks while those who assume to be the most corrupt politicians in this country, but connected to the elite, are given bail the next day. This is a gross miscarriage of justice.”
Recently, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa Zimbabwe) said it was “an open secret” that this bill was influenced by the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter campaign that centred on demanding respect for human rights in Zimbabwe.
Molokele urged the government not to force people to be patriotic.
“So I would like to say that true patriotism will come from the heart of the people. Do not force them. Parliament should not force our people to be patriotic.
“Do not pass laws that are fascist, laws that are dictatorial in nature and say that the people of Zimbabwe are free. Let them be free to express their voices.
“Why are you trying to use the Parliament of Zimbabwe to force people to be patriotic when there is nothing to be patriotic about? Please stop it. Stop it! Thank you Mr Speaker sir.” Nehanda Radio