THE reason Zimbabwe needs a Patriotic Act as a matter of urgency is not only to produce a responsible citizenry but to discard of the country’s recent past which has been characterised by disloyalty, incessant and brazen interference by foreign governments colluding with their local sellouts whose despicable treachery has been destabilising the country over the past years.
Zimbabwe would not be the first country to craft such a law which, when all is said and done, is designed to protect the country’s interests and its citizens’ well-being and security.
While Harare has, to its credit, suffered this anomaly through the numerous engagement and re-engagement drives, the inescapable reality is that this country has been abused for far too long at the instigation of hostile foreign governments, mainly from the West, with the help of their local partners and the time has come for Zimbabwe to assert its authority on her sovereignty and territorial integrity.
As expected, the fierce protestations over the proposed Patriotic Act have come mainly from Western-founded and funded organisations, entities and individuals that have been 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.
These activists are funded by the US and most of them are in the opposition MDC and the so-called ‘civil society’.
This publication can reveal that the US Government has so far released
US$5 million for its propaganda mouthpieces to tarnish the image of the Zimbabwe Government ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections.
The money was released last month.
Not surprising is the fact that even those countries, like the US, that have been opposing the proposed Act have their own laws which are more draconian than what the country is proposing.
That rebuke of how Zimbabwe runs its processes is the more reason why it should, in fact, forge ahead with enacting the Patriotic Act.
There are one or two errant citizens of this country who should be taught a few lessons about patriotism and the Patriotic Act is there to serve that purpose.
But what is this Patriotic Bill that has attracted so much scorn and attention from those who are clamouring for a change of leadership through means outside the ballot box?
How did it come about?
Below is an orderly account of events that have taken us where we are in enacting the Patriotic Act:
The idea was first brought to Parliament by ZANU PF Chief Whip Pupurai Togarepi in August 2019.
“We have challenges on the economy, some being caused by sanctions,” Togarepi said in Parliament.
“There are some MPs in this House who are going outside to call for these restrictions. There should be a law to prosecute those who seek for sanctions. They are terrorists.”
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:
λ 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.
λ Private citizens will have to avoid conduct such as travelling as self-appointed ambassadors, or meeting with foreign officials, to undermine the national interest.
λ Conniving with or engaging in correspondence with hostile foreign governments and nationals to inflict harm on the country will be criminalised and punished severely.
On October 27 2020, Cabinet approved amendments to the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act that punishes Zimbabweans outside and inside the country who campaign for sanctions with the intention of causing harm to the country.
The proposed law will also punish those who plan demonstrations that coincide with major international and regional events or visits by dignitaries.
“Cabinet noted that the current law does not criminalise the unauthorised communication or negotiation by private citizens with foreign governments. Such communication or negotiation has a direct or indirect implication on Zimbabwe’s foreign relations and policy,” said Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa during a Post Cabinet Briefing on October 27 2020.
“The amendments will criminalise the conduct of isolated citizens or groups who, for self-gain, co-operate or connive with hostile foreign governments to inflict suffering on Zimbabwean citizens and to cause damage to national interests. The individuals or groups involve themselves in issues of foreign relations without verifying facts or engaging domestic authorities.
“Such willful misinformation of foreign governments will therefore make the individuals or groups liable for prosecution. Other actions that will become punishable include planned and timed protests deliberately designed to coincide with major international, continental or regional events or visits. There are also various unsubstantiated claims of torture and abductions that are concocted to tarnish the image of the Government, and amendments will criminalise such conduct.”
On March 2 2021, ZANU PF MP for Mberengwa South, the late Alum Mpofu, moved a motion titled ‘Promotion of the Country’s Positive Image’ in the National Assembly for the enactment of the Patriotic Bill.
Mpofu said he was concerned with continued portrayal of the country in negative light.
Togarepi seconded the motion.
“The imposition of sanctions by the US, EU, Canada, Australia et cetera was at the behest of our people,” he said.
“The imposition of sanctions by these countries was as a result of lobbying by certain individuals. Some deliberately went to these countries to ask for the people of Zimbabwe to be killed by way of denying us access to health. In other words, you are saying we should die.
“These are citizens of Zimbabwe, what are we doing as a country to ensure that such people pay for exposing the people of Zimbabwe, we need to do something, and it should be done now.
“Nobody wants to do business with a person who from his country is called so many names. So, it is very important that the media, politicians, businesspeople and all citizens of this country understand that they are people of Zimbabwe first before their political and business interests. We are one and it is a law that we can put down today in this House on this land that will defend the interest of Zimbabwe.”
While those who are harping about the Bill are saying it is ‘unpatriotic’, the reality is that those who claim to be champions of democracy have laws that make it difficult for their citizens to even make a phone call to a loved one.
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.
We also look at 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 case is the same in the UK which 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
(a) the use or threat is designed to influence the government or intimidate the public or a section of the public, and
(b) 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:
(a) involves serious violence against a person,
(b) involves serious damage to property, and
(c) endangers a person’s life other than that of the person committing the action.”
Australia, where most of the white former commercial farmers went to after the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme of 2000, has enacted 82 anti-terror laws since the September 11 2001 attacks in the US.
We will humbly warn those who are opposed to the enactment of the Patriotic Bill to brace themselves for disappointment because it is coming and nothing can or will stand in the way of that noble initiative.
Only the guilty are afraid!