Parliament passes law to punish “unpatriotic” citizens, “step back to hell”
Zanu-PF has effectively used its two thirds majority in Parliament to push the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Amendment Bill (Criminal Code) which contains a clause that criminalises “wilfully damaging the sovereignty and national interest of Zimbabwe.”
The clause referred to as the Patriotic Act is likely to orchestrate violation of freedom of expression and association while containing harsh punishment for people charged under it.
Opposition MPs tried to criticise it and avoid its sailing through but the ruling party with its two third majority prevailed in the end.
On Wednesday the bill was referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee. It awaits a third reading before being referred to the Senate.
Commenting on the latest developments surrounding the passing of the bill, journalist Hopewell Chin’ono said if passed into law, the bill is likely to infringe and destroy freedom of association and assembly.
“A very sad day for Zimbabwe today as that country’s parliament has passed the Patriot Act bill into law. It seeks to destroy freedom of association and assembly.
“Free speech is now dead and any Zimbabwean holding a meeting with a foreign government official will be jailed,” he said.
Main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) senator David Coltart said the bill was designed by Zanu-PF to criminalise speaking against human rights abuses.
“The true nature of the Zanu-PF regime was again shown last night with the passing of the so-called Patriotic Bill in Parliament. The shocking bill is designed to criminalise speaking out against human rights abuses
“I wonder when the international community will understand the true nature of this regime. It cynically suggests that it is interested in democracy, is non aligned, anti corruption and pro business. But the reality of its true nature is shown at moments like these,” the former Education minister said.
Former cabinet Minister Walter Mzembi also described the development as “a step back to Hell”.
“Passing of Patriot Bill last night after the promulgation of the Election Date is a tragic regression of the once upon a time ‘The Voice of the People is the Voice of God’ to ‘The Voice of the President is the Voice of God’ What a step back to Hell.
“The horrible impact of this bad and vague law will be felt when it is in full operation. Tragically it will turn our boiling Kettle Country into a Pressure Cooker where struggling people cannot vent their steam out!
Why are we perfecting colonial laws?
“The 50 cubic feet high Gallows that Haman built to hang Mordecai on the advice of his wife Zeresh eventually became his Waterloo! Bad laws are Haman’s Gallows they eventually consume those who inspired them.
Let’s watch and pray,” the former Tourism and later Foreign Affairs Minister said.