IN AN ominous message for the opposition, Zanu PF says it wants all people who have supported the West’s sanctions on Zimbabwe to be barred from taking part in the 2023 polls.
In that light, the ruling party says, it wants a provision — barring the likes of MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa — inserted into the mooted Patriotic Bill, which authorities want to become law as soon as possible.
Speaking to the Daily News at the weekend, Zanu PF chief whip, Pupurai Togarepi, said it was unacceptable that some opposition leaders continued to support sanctions against the country.
“Anyone who goes around inviting sanctions and spreading rumours and lies about his country can’t be expected to stand in any election, even at council level — worse someone who wants to be the president.
“When you see a person going outside his home to look for trouble for his family, that person is no longer a member of that family but … an enemy of that family.
“Whoever goes around the world inviting sanctions like Chamisa and his henchman Tendai Biti are doing is an enemy of the State,” Togarepi told the Daily News.
“They are celebrating that they have tightened the screws against Zimbabwe. You can’t expect the same people to stand up and then say they want to represent the people of Zimbabwe.
“The Patriotic Bill must have a section which says anyone who goes around inviting sanctions like Chamisa is doing — who is a traitor saying bad things about his country — that that person must not be allowed to contest in any election, particularly as a president or MP,” he added.
The former Zanu PF youth league boss also alleged that Chamisa and his lieutenants had had a hand in the country’s economic and political woes due to their “dalliance” with Western powers “hostile to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the country”.
“Chamisa is not fit to contest as a presidential candidate …This is a person who is inviting troubles for this country.
“He is an enemy of our people. The Patriotic Bill must address all these issues, it must ensure that such people must not be anywhere near power.
“Such political elements must not be allowed to be in our political process. He can’t accept democratic process,” Togarepi further told the Daily News.
“Chamisa is just one person and we can’t allow him to destroy this country folding our hands. He must not be allowed to contest elections,” he added.
All this comes as the Patriotic Bill has triggered anger and panic within pro-democracy circles — with critics arguing that it is intended to punish dissenting voices in the country.
“It is our position that the proposed Patriotic Bill will only serve as a weapon to punish civil society organisations and political adversaries for exercising the right to expression, particularly in relation to the state of the nation
“As the Heads of NGO Coalitions operating in Zimbabwe, our considered view is that the general and sweeping nature of the proposed Bill is a cause for concern as it appears that it would apply to any citizen, civil society organisation and political opponent/party.
“There does not appear to be a delineation of what would constitute unacceptable private correspondence with foreign governments, save for what is determined by the government and in particular the ruling party.
“This is particularly of concern to the work of human rights-related organisations, whose mandate is to observe, bring attention to and seek redress for human rights violations,” civil society organisations have said.
Among the civic bodies that are vehemently opposed to the controversial law are the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn), the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).
In March this year, Zanu PF moved a motion in the National Assembly calling for the enactment of the proposed Patriotic Bill.
The late Zanu PF legislator for Mberengwa South, Alum Mpofu, moved the motion.
“I call upon this august House to enact a law that recognises and celebrates efforts made by Zimbabwean citizens at home and abroad to promote the country’s positive image and brand; and prohibits any Zimbabwean citizen from wilfully communicating messages intended to harm the image and reputation of the country on international platforms or engaging with foreign countries with the intention of communicating messages intended to harm the country’s positive image and/or to under its integrity and reputation,” Mpofu said then.
Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has previously told the Daily News that the Patriotic Act had become a “priority Bill” for authorities.
“On the Patriotic Bill, our policy department is preparing principles of the bill and very soon we will table it in Parliament. There is also a need to speed up this bill.
“In the next legislative session (the current sitting), that bill will be on the agenda. It is one of our priority bills. We embraced too much the so-called freedom of expression that is nowhere in the world.
“Here, there is too much freedom. In America they have that Patriotic Act and all those laws,” Ziyambi told the Daily News last year.
“We are now looking at our legislation to see how we can strengthen it, so that we protect innocent citizens from undue attack from those who are unpatriotic.
“We are looking at how we can deal with this,” Ziyambi further told the Daily News.
In the United States of America, the Patriot Act — which is officially known as the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act — was developed largely as an anti-terrorism piece of legislation in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Section 314 of the Act helps law enforcement agencies to identify, disrupt and prevent terrorist acts and money laundering activities — by encouraging co-operation among law enforcement agents, regulators and financial institutions. -Daily News