THE Criminal Law Codification (Reform) Amendment Bill dubbed Patriotic Bill will be detrimental to Zimbabwe’s aspirations of emerging from a pariah state, opposition senators have said.
The Bill sailed through the Senate Wednesday and is now awaiting presidential assent.
If signed into law by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the bill will see jailing of people who “wilfully injure the sovereignty and national interest of Zimbabwe”.
The bill has received condemnation from political quarters and civic society groups arguing that it is meant to silence criticism against the government.
Speaking in the Senate recently, Khaliphani Phugeni said the bill will thwart Mnangagwa’s efforts of re-engaging with the international community.
“I am saying this Bill is having a complete opposite of what we want to achieve. We are trying to be part of the Commonwealth, we are trying to be part of the International Community of Nations but this is not the way to go about it. In case there is any doubt, I am against sanctions.
“I think they do not work because the people who are sanctioned seem to live their lives largely. If you go out here and look, there is only one party which has got cars leading up to this election. The Opposition does not have cars and largely because there are sanctions in this country.
“The people who are sanctioned are able to go on with their lives, accessing medical health outside the country and can be involved in economic activities. The ones who are supposedly calling for the sanctions are the ones who are sanctioned. No doubt, I do not support it. I have travelled around embassies telling them that these sanctions take.
“Of course, I have already said that the ruling elite are not affected by the sanctions, but if this action brings more sanctions to us, brings isolation, the very people who are unfairly carrying the blunt of sanctions now, are going to be worse off,” said Phugeni.
Zimbabwe under Mnangagwa is desperate to rebuild its reputation which had been tainted under then leader Robert Mugabe’s government.
Mnangagwa who deposed Mugabe through a military coup aims to resuscitate relationships with the West and international blocs like the Commonwealth.
Morgan Komichi said the bill will infringe freedom of expression which is enshrined in the Constitution.
“This law seeks to remove the rights to freedom of speech that is enshrined in our Constitution as well as our freedom of association. We are in a global village, we have exchange relationships. This law is oppressive.” said Komichi. – Newzim