Game over for Zimbabweans who go outside the country calling for sanctions


Zimbabwe’s parliament has passed a law that has been criticized as threatening citizens’ freedom of expression. The law, part of an amendment bill to the Criminal Code, criminalizes “wilfully damaging the sovereignty and national interest of Zimbabwe.”

Opposition MPs argue that the provision is too vague and will be used to suppress dissent and criticism of the government. During the debate on the bill, opposition MP Shakespear Hamauswa said that patriotism cannot be legislated and that citizens need laws that protect their rights, not take rights away.

Fadzai Mahere, spokesperson for the Citizens Coalition for Change opposition party, described the passing of the law as “a dark day for democracy.” She tweeted that the Patriotic Bill, as the law has been dubbed, poses a “dangerous threat” to freedoms.

Critics of the law say that the vague language criminalising actions that “damage national interest” could be used to jail citizens for up to 15 years merely for expressing views that are seen as critical of the government. They argue the law perpetuates restrictions on freedom of expression and media freedoms in Zimbabwe. However, supporters of the law say it is necessary to protect national security and sovereignty.

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