Zvamaida Murwira, Harare Bureau
AMENDMENTS to the criminal code approved by Cabinet yesterday will impose stiffer penalties for those who campaign against the country through private correspondence with foreign governments and harm national interests.
Acting Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Dr Jenfan Muswere, standing in for Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, said after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting that Cabinet considered and approved the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Amendment Bill, 2022, presented by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ziyambi Ziyambi in his capacity as chairman of the Cabinet committee on legislation.
The Bill enhanced the provisions of the Criminal Law Code in matters relating to the country’s sovereignty through the criminalisation of conduct that undermined Zimbabwe’s sovereignty, dignity, independence and national interests.
“The Bill also provides for a mandatory sentence in rape and murder cases. In addition, it expands the definition of ‘dangerous drugs’ and also amends the elements which form the crime of abuse of public office.”
The patriotism aspects had been mooted for some time after it emerged that some opposition elements were globetrotting around Western capitals calling for the imposition of illegal sanctions for their political gain.
In an interview last night, some analysts and legislators said the Bill was long overdue given that some opposition elements and members of civic society were engaging hostile countries speaking ill about Zimbabwe in furtherance of their political interests.
Mashonaland East Proportional Representative MP Cde Tatenda Mavetera (Zanu-PF) said the Bill was welcome, saying it was consistent with what other countries like the United States have done.
“It is a Bill that has been long overdue. Our leader, His Excellency President Mnangagwa has been clear that a country is built by its own people. How do you build your country when you speak bad about it? We are happy that Cabinet has approved the Bill and as legislators we will support it,” she said.
She said Zimbabweans ought to speak about developmental work the Second Republic is carrying out, particularly empowerment of women. The Bill drew on similar legislation in other jurisdictions such as the Logan Act in the United States of America.
Midlands Senator, Morgan Komichi (MDC-T) said as legislators they were ready to support the Bill.
“We will have to first go through it once it comes to Parliament. We are prepared to support it if it upholds the rights of the people as enshrined in the Constitution,” said Sen Komichi.
Political analyst Mr Honest Ziuchi said the Bill will revolutionalise the political landscape where some people would meet hostile local embassies and speak ill about the country. “This is a progressive and requires everyone’s support. The Bill will instil patriotism which every citizen is duty bound to uphold,” said Mr Ziuchi.
Another analyst noted that the Bill is premised on the constitutional provision on the foreign policy of the country, which values the promotion and protection of the national interests of Zimbabwe.
“Clearly it is and must be the duty of the State to engage other sovereign nations on issues pertaining to foreign relations, and not self-serving citizens,” he said.
Many Western countries led by Britain and the United States imposed illegal economic sanctions on Zimbabwe at the turn of the millennium at the instigation of leaders in opposition political parties and civic society.
The sanctions, which have been renewed annually, have damaged the country’s economy, although the country is now using its own growing resources, but development could be speeded up with the standard access to balance of payment support and affordable loans from international finance institutions.