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ZCTU Raises Alarm Over Criminal Law Amendment Bill

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) has raised alarm over the recent Cabinet approval of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Amendment Bill which criminalises conduct deemed as unpatriotic or undermining Zimbabwe’s sovereignty.

Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa confirmed that Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi had presented the draft law to government on Tuesday.

In a statement, ZCTU said the Bill will curtail citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and association.

“The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) notes with great concern and alarm that Cabinet has approved the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Amendment Bill 2022, that will impose stiff penalties to Zimbabweans who are alleged to be campaigning against perceived national interests.

“The Statement by the government indicate that the Bill will criminalize any conduct that is deemed to undermine Zimbabwe’s sovereignty, dignity and national interest. The Bill effectively bars Zimbabwean from talking to foreign governments on the prevailing situation in the country.

“Even in our African tradition, when a father beats his children, the children can approach neighbours for mediation. Zimbabwe does not need this Bill and by approving this law, the Government is shooting itself in the foot as this will cement the widely held view that Zimbabwe is under authoritarian rule,” said ZCTU.

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The labour movement said with elections drawing closer, the Bill is meant to instill fear to the society.

“There is no doubt that this Bill will be used as weapon against opponents of the government to clampdown on dissenting voices. The ZCTU believes that issues to do with patriotism should not be imposed on citizens and patriotism does not mean keeping quiet when there is bad governance. Noone has a right to prescribe to Zimbabweans what is and what is not patriotism.

“With elections drawing closer, the ZCTU also believes this Bill is meant to instill fear to the society and Zimbabweans not to speak on issues to do with violence, harassment and intimidation that had been the hallmark of our elections over the years.

“The Bill is a direct attack on democracy, freedom of expression and association. If it passed it will confirm that indeed that the Government enjoys tightening its noose on Zimbabweans. The ZCTU demands that legislators in Parliament reject the Bill and ensure that Zimbabweans’ right to freedom of expression and association which are guaranteed in our Constitution are protected,” said the labour organisation.

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