By Tawanda Chenana

WE, in the village, are delighted that Cabinet has considered and approved the Patriotic Bill.

Indeed the Bill is long overdue.

We need the Patriotic Act as a matter of urgency not only to produce a responsible citizenry but to ensure ongoing development efforts are not derailed.

Interference by foreign governments colluding with local sellouts is holding back the country.

Every progressive individual should be for the law.

Zimbabwe is not the first country to craft such a law designed to protect the country’s interests and its citizens’ well-being and security.

Is it not interesting that those against the proposed Patriotic Act are mainly from Western-founded and funded organisations, entities and individuals.

Those against the proposed law are the very same driving the regime change agenda through calling for imposition of illegal economic sanctions, tarnishing the country’s good name and engaging in various acts of sabotage.

We know for a fact that these people are funded by the US, are in opposition politics and so-called ‘civil society’.

The US, who have led in opposing the proposed Act have their own laws which are more draconian than what the country is proposing.

Those screaming against the Bill and claiming to be champions of democracy have laws that make it difficult for their citizens to even make a phone call to anyone they wish.

The Logan Act is one such law.

On January 30 1799, the Logan Act was passed by the US Congress to prevent any individual from communicating with a foreign government without permission from US authorities.

“Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both,” reads the Act in part.

There is also Section 802 of the US Patriot Act which defines acts of domestic terrorism as:

“Those wilful criminal acts dangerous to human life, committed primarily within the US that appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, or to influence a government policy by intimidation or coercion, or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.”

The UK also has its own laws that prevent its citizens from embarking on acts of terrorism.

The Terrorism Act of 2000 of the UK says:

“Terrorism means the use or threat of action where

  • the use or threat is designed to influence the government or intimidate the public or a section of the public, and
  • the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.

The same Act provides that an action falls within this definition of terrorism if it:

  • involves serious violence against a person,
  • involves serious damage to property, and
  • endangers a person’s life other than that of the person committing the action.”

Definitely, like has been said, sauce for goose is sauce for gander.

We should forge ahead with enacting the Patriotic Act.

It is time errant citizens are brought to book.

What is the Patriotic Bill ?

The idea was first brought to Parliament by ZANU PF in August 2019.

In August 2020, the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, working on recommendations from the Cabinet Committee on National Peace and Reconciliation, drafted principles of a Patriotic Bill. 

The principles, as highlighted by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Virginia Mabhiza, were as follows:

  • It is the sole mandate of the State to engage other nations on issues pertaining to foreign relations.
  • lt is the duty of the State to engage other sovereign nations regarding foreign relations, and not the duty of self-serving citizens.
  • Private citizens will have to avoid conduct such as travelling as self-appointed ambassadors, or meeting with foreign officials, to undermine the national interest.
  • Conniving with or engaging in correspondence with hostile foreign governments and nationals to inflict harm on the country will be criminalised and punished severely.

For example, the Act will punish Zimbabweans outside and inside the country who campaign for sanctions that are hampering development.

The proposed law will also punish those who plan demonstrations that coincide with major international and regional events or visits by dignitaries.

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