Parliament in Zimbabwe has approved a controversial new law that criminalises acts that damage “the sovereignty and national interest” of the southern African country.
The new law was passed hours after the government announced nationwide elections for August 23rd.
Critics claim the new law kills free speech.
“The criminalization targets individuals expressing differing opinions against Zanu-PF and dissenting views from Mnangagwa himself, who is a presidential candidate for Zanu-PF. This action, taking place just before the upcoming election, clearly demonstrates that Zanu-PF is not adhering to the reforms they claim to be implementing, contrary to their assertions in the international community,” explained Ostallos Siziba, the National Deputy Spokesperson for the opposition’s CCC party.
A member of the ruling Zanu-PF party, speaking in parliament, stated that the new law aims to foster patriotism among Zimbabweans.
Critics argue that this bill, along with other recent measures, is intended to suppress dissenting voices in the lead-up to the elections.
According to Njabulo Ncube, the National Coordinator for the Zimbabwe Editors Forum: “They want to project a tough image and instill fear in the electorate and opposition by introducing this oppressive law right before the election.”
Emmerson Mnangagwa, an eighty-year-old who assumed power in 2017 following a military-led coup that ousted long-time ruler Robert Mugabe, is seeking re-election for a second term in August. His primary opponent is Nelson Chamisa, a forty-five-year-old lawyer and pastor who leads the newly formed CCC party.