Photo by Nicolas Liponne/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa delivers a speech at the fundraising day at the Sixth World Fund Conference in Lyon, France, on October 10, 2019

Zimbabwe Approves Law Which Will Criminalise Anti-Government Protests

Zimbabwe's recent amendment to the existing Criminal Law (Codification Reform) Act will make make both anti-government protests and international political collaborations of any kind punishable under the new law.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa continues to draw criticism with regards to his governance despite rising concerns about the country. According to The Street Journal, President Mnangagwa has recently approved the proposal of a law which will make public protests illegal. This follows international concern about Zimbabwe's continued human rights violations since the questionable arrest of demonstrators in July this year. The iron-fist ruling of the Zanu-PF led government has driven this deliberate move to stifle international relations.

READ: Former Botswana President Ian Khama Condemns Zimbabwean Government

Zimbabwe's new law will be an amendment to the Criminal Law (Codification Reform) Act. The country's Information Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, explained what the amendment will entail in a media briefing.

"The amendments will criminalise the conduct of isolated citizens or groups, who for self-gain cooperate or connive with hostile foreign governments to inflict suffering on Zimbabwean citizens and to cause damage to national interests."

Citizens will also be punished for planned anti-government protests that coincide with international events. Zimbabweans' rights of association have admittedly been violated by the recent amended law as it prevents "cooperation with foreign governments".

Mnangagwa tabled the "Patriot Bill" at the beginning of October following the release of journalist Hopewell Chin'ono and opposition leader, Jacob Ngarivhume. Their release came after mounting pressure from Zimbabweans and Africans as a collective after the July 31st anti-government demonstrations which sparked the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter movement. This new law is reportedly a lighter version of the "Patriot Bill" but its message is nonetheless the same––Zimbabwe does not value the freedom of its people.

While regional body SADC and AU have remained silent at the blatant transgression of Zimbabweans' rights, international human rights agencies and trade organisations have continued to condemn Mnangagwa. In fact, the country has been under international trade sanctions by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for a few years now but the government is seemingly only interested in protecting its own interests. Additionally, Zanu-PF acting spokesperson, Patrick Chinamasa, has accused MDC Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa, and his deputy, Tendai Biti, of going to the United States to invite sanctions on the country.

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