President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s under-fire administration has resolved to legislate a code of conduct for all political parties and to criminalise campaigning against “one’s own country.”
The promulgation of this move by government comes at a time when a campaign trending on social media, #ZimbabweanLivesMatter is forcing advocacy networks, celebrities and politicians in Zimbabwe, South Africa and across the world to take the information on rights abuses in Zimbabwe and mount pressure on Mnangagwa’s government to act.
Speaking at a post cabinet briefing on Wednesday, Minister Sithembiso Nyoni said Vice President Kembo Mohadi, as Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on National Peace and Reconciliation, presented recommendations from the 2018 And 2019 annual recommendations of the commission.
She said a legislation and a code of conduct would be put in place to regulate the operations and conduct of all political parties in Zimbabwe.
“Honourable Vice President K.C.D. Mohadi, as Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on National Peace and Reconciliation, presented Recommendations from the 2018 And 2019 Annual Reports of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, which were adopted by Cabinet.
“The Vice President will present the recommendations to Parliament in due course as required by the Constitution. Highlights of the recommendations include the following:
that legislation and a Code of Conduct will be put in place to regulate the operations and conduct of all political parties;
“that campaigning against one’s country shall be legislated at law and criminalised;
“that existing laws shall be strengthened to include elements that foster tolerance, equality and social cohesion among Zimbabweans as well as prohibit hate speech by public officials, media houses and citizens in public spaces and social, print and electronic media platforms;
“that the public should be educated on the Security Services’ complaints handling and feedback mechanisms;
“that the development of the Witness Protection Bill be expedited; and
that historians will be resourced to document inclusive story lines that reframe and capture agreeable narratives about Zimbabwe’s history,” Nyoni said.
On Tuesday, Mnangagwa labelled the main opposition party “terrorist” and vowed to continue a crackdown on his opponents.
Several opposition members and government critics have been arrested in recent days while human rights groups allege security forces have carried out illegal abductions. The ruling Zanu PF party blames the main opposition MDC Alliance for inviting Western sanctions on the country.
But the Western countries blame the ruling regime for massive human rights abuses.
Two weeks ago, political commentator and investigative journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono, the one who exposed Zanu PF officials in massive corruption, the latest being the Drax-Covidgate scandal that saw the arrest and dismissal of Health Minister Obadiah Moyo, was arrested together with opposition Transform Zimbabwe leader, Jacob Ngarivhume.
They were arrested ahead of the 31st July protests against corruption and charged for allegedly “inciting violence”.
On the day of the protests, the Zimbabwean police arrested scores of people who tried to hold peaceful demonstrations.
When Mnangagwa took over power from late former president Robert Mugabe through a military coup in November 2017, he promised economic recovery based on respect for human rights and subsequent removal of sanctions.
Three years down the line, the international community is condemning his regime for failing to respect human rights