Patriotic Bill to dent Mnangagwa’s Commonwealth dream

Patriotic Bill to dent Mnangagwa’s Commonwealth dream
Patriotic Bill to dent Mnangagwa’s Commonwealth dream

Patriotic Bill to dent Mnangagwa’s Commonwealth dream

By Staff Reporter

United Kingdom’s House of Lords has urged its government to block Zimbabwe from re-joining Commonwealth because of the Patriotic Bill.

The Bill, if passed, will criminalise criticism of the Zimbabwean government in any discussion with foreign government officials or in foreign countries.

It will also block opposition parties from engaging with foreign governments and embassies without approval from the government.

However, this has not gone down well with the UK legislators who feel it will be a violation of human rights.

The Bill has also received its fair share of criticism locally.

However, the Bill is set to stand in the way of Zimbabwe’s efforts to re-join the Commonwealth.

Re-joining the Commonwealth has been one of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s dreams since coming to power in 2017.

Speaking recently, Lord St. John of Blesto asked the UK government to make it clear that they will only support the readmission if Zimbabwe restores political freedoms.

“My Lords, is the minister aware that last week the Zimbabwe cabinet signed off on the Patriot Bill, which would make it a criminal offence for anyone to criticise President Mnangagwa and for any member of the opposition to speak to any foreign government in a negative way about Zimbabwe?

“At a time when Zimbabwe is considering re-joining the Commonwealth, can the minister make it clear that our government will support this only when the rule of law is restored and freedom of speech and political freedoms are protected?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Minister in question, responded by making it clear, the British government will indeed support Zimbabwe’s re-entry only once it respected freedom of speech and political freedoms the Patriot Bill aims to curtail.

The House of Lords went on to suggest Zambia and South Africa be roped in to exert pressure on the new dispensation for tangible reforms in the electoral, human and political rights department.

Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced to journalists, cabinet’s decision to sign off the Bill which ruling Zanu PF has equalled to America’s Logan Act of 1799.

“The Bill is premised on the constitutional provision on the foreign policy of our country, which values the promotion and protection of the national interests of Zimbabwe,” said Mutsvangwa.

“It is the duty of the State to engage other sovereign nations on issues pertaining to foreign relations and not self-serving citizens.

“The amendments will criminalise the conduct of isolated citizens or groups who, for self-gain, cooperate or connive with hostile foreign governments to inflict suffering on Zimbabwean citizens and to cause damage.”

 It will also criminalise planning and demonstrations deliberately organised to coincide with “major international, continental or regional events or visits” and imprison perpetrators of

“unsubstantiated claims of torture and abductions that are concocted to tarnish the image of the government.”

Civic society organisations (CSOs) have been at the forefront, criticising the Bill they feel is aimed at them while opposition political parties have also aired similar views.

Patriotic Bill to dent Mnangagwa’s Commonwealth dream

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