Lazy eyes listen
Zimbabwe’s parliament has passed legislation that punishes individuals for “unpatriotic acts” with up to 20 years in prison, citizenship revocation, and fines.
On Wednesday, lawmakers voted 99 to 17 in favour of the Criminal Law Code Amendment Bill, which includes a Patriot Act provision that criminalises “willfully undermining Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and national interest.” Citizens who work with foreign representatives to campaign for sanctions against Zimbabwe or to overthrow the government are included.
Harare has blamed the opposition’s actions on Western sanctions imposed on numerous senior officials and state-owned enterprises for suspected human rights breaches, and is attempting to limit meetings between opposition members and foreign authorities.
According to critics, the decree perpetuates violations of free expression and targets opponents of Zimbabwe’s ruling African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).
Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), an opposition group, called the bill “dangerous,” “unconstitutional,” and a threat to Harare’s democracy.
“A person convicted under the ‘Patriotic Bill’ could face the death penalty.” This is a breach of the right to life under Section 48 of the Constitution, which states that the death penalty can only be imposed for murder committed by men aged 21 to 70, according to CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere on Thursday.
Zimbabwe’s presidential and parliamentary elections will be place on August 23, according to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is vying for re-election. Nelson Chamisa, 45, is the major opponent of the 80-year-old.
The CCC’s spokeswoman has urged voters to “vote tyranny out” and vote for a government that prioritises its citizens, adding in a tweet on Thursday that “it’s only in a dictatorship that you can face the death penalty for holding a meeting.”