HARARE – Zimbabwe’s Senate yesterday passed a controversial bill that could strip citizens of their rights and even their lives if they are accused of undermining the country’s sovereignty and national integrity. The bill, known as the Patriotic Bill, targets anyone who meets with foreigners or foreign agents, plots to overthrow the government, or calls for sanctions or boycotts against Zimbabwe.
The bill, which was supported by the ruling Zanu PF party, now awaits President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s signature to become law. Critics say the bill is a blatant attempt to silence dissent and stifle democracy in the troubled nation.
“This bill is a travesty of justice and a violation of our constitutional rights. It is meant to intimidate and oppress the people who are suffering under this regime,” said Morgan Komichi, a senator from the opposition MDC-T party, who opposed the bill.
The bill also faced condemnation from other opposition parties and civil society groups, who warned that it could lead to human rights abuses and political persecution.
“This bill is a death sentence for anyone who dares to speak out against the government or its policies. It is a tool of repression and tyranny that will only worsen the crisis in Zimbabwe,” said Robert Chapman, leader of the Democratic Union Zimbabwe party.
But Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi defended the bill, saying it was necessary to protect Zimbabwe from its enemies.
“This bill is not about curtailing freedom of information, assembly or press. It is about safeguarding our sovereignty and national integrity from those who want to destroy our country. We have a duty to defend our nation from foreign interference and subversion,” he said.
Zanu PF senators also praised the bill, saying it was a patriotic act that would strengthen Zimbabwe’s independence and security.