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death wish for Zimbabwe
The Standard (Zimbabwe)
ONE of the sharpest
legal minds ever to grace Zanu PF, the late nationalist and liberation
war hero, Dr Eddison Zvobgo criticised the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) saying journalists would live
in terror of the minister because of the legislation.
On Tuesday last
week, ruling party MPs ensured that Zimbabweans will hence forth
live in perpetual terror of the State when they enthusiastically
passed the Constitutional Amendment Bill No 17.
into law will transform this country into a vast Gulag, effectively
declaring Zimbabwe a de facto one-party State. The Bill is a coup
that completes the full cycle of repression by plugging the loopholes
in both AIPPA and the Public Order and Security Act (POSA).
It is a tragic
irony that the heroes of Zimbabwe's struggle for liberation have
now mounted the most resolute and calculated assault on the rights
of citizens of this country. Embarrassed by dwindling popular support
during polls since 2000, the government and the ruling party are
now intent on achieving public backing through coercion.
moment of the Zimbabwean nightmare and tragedy was the sight of
Zanu PF MPs breaking into song and celebrating. They may have celebrated
the emasculation of the judiciary in the case of applicants contesting
seizure of commercial farmland in the belief that it is a piece
of legislation designed to punish white supporters of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change. This is unashamed racism and demonstrates
how short their memories are. The victims of the government's so-called
Third Chimurenga have not been and will not be entirely white commercial
whipped into line and voting along party lines, the ruling party
MPs celebrated a pyrrhic victory. They decry the shortages of foreign
currency and low levels of foreign direct investment, when in passing
the Bill their message to external investors is unambiguous: there
is neither observance of nor respect for property rights in Zimbabwe.
There are German,
French and Italian investments in farming/agricultural enterprises
in this country. Now they could contemplate pulling out or scaling
down their activities in order to minimise potential losses and
there will be lesser prospects of attracting further investment
from these countries in particular or other nations in general.
The next front
of assault on property rights, at the rate at which things are going,
could be foreign factories and companies, or those whose owners
are deemed to threaten national interests.
of the authority of the judiciary poses a serious threat to efforts
at turning around the economy, while the timing of the passage of
the Bill was an instructive demonstration of the dearth of strategic
planning and timing in the ruling party. Whether it was a show of
the now familiar mindless and empty bravado directed at the visiting
International Monetary Fund mission that was in the country, the
The IMF team
is unlikely to have been impressed with both the Bill and the 11th
hour payment of the US$120 million towards settling Harare's arrears
in the hope of staving off expulsion from the international financial
institution. The best that Zimbabwe can now expect from the IMF
Board is that it will not expel the country, but neither will it
open the taps to new balance of payment support, simply because
Zimbabwe has not demonstrated any resolve to put the economy on
the path to recovery. Mere expressions of intent are one thing,
determined action towards attainment of an economic turnaround is
of the ruling party MPs demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt
where the real threat to national interests and security is coming
They may celebrate
in the mistaken belief that in withdrawing travel documents from
people who are calling for this country to be punished by the international
community, they are responding to the EU and US travel sanctions.
But, in fact, they are building a wall around Zimbabwe out of which
people considered "dissidents" will not be allowed. The immediate
targets are members of the opposition MDC and those from non-governmental
organisations and civic society groups. To this, add media houses
Such a landmark
amendment should have been preceded by broader consultations between
the government, MPs and the electorate. Issues such as what constitutes
threats to national interests should have been debated and agreed
on before presentation of and debate on the Bill. The government
and the ruling party are seeking support through coercion and in
this instance the government is wielding a new weapon it proposes
to use against its citizens in curtailing freedom of travel, association
between this government and Ian Smith's, which banned and exiled
many of the leading nationalists resulting in their recourse to
UN or Commonwealth travel documents, is negligible. The timing of
the Bill is also regrettable. It comes weeks before the United Nations
General Assembly in New York this month. It is as if Zimbabwe is
telling everyone else to go to hell.
has been rendered impotent, the judiciary disempowered and the economy
dealt a mortal blow. Someone has a death wish for this country.
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