Death Penalty, No Voting Rights For "Traitors"
Amendments to the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act which were approved by Cabinet last Tuesday are set to introduce tough penalties for citizens found guilty of harming the country’s national interests.
Citizens who would invite a military attack on Zimbabwe from a hostile foreign government through private correspondence will face the death penalty or life imprisonment.
Those who campaign for economic sanctions and trade restrictions would be liable to imprisonment for a period of up to five years.
According to the proposed new law, citizens who actively encourage sanctions on Zimbabwe would be barred from voting, registering as voters, and holding public office for up to 15 years. Reads the Bill’s memorandum:
Our Constitutional order of Zimbabwe that is based on parliamentary democracy affords many avenues for aggrieved citizens to redress their wrongs, including against the State.
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It is therefore improper for citizens and residents of Zimbabwe to implement measures that undermine our sovereignty, dignity and independence as a nation. This (new) clause will criminalise such conduct.
According to the Bill, any citizen or permanent resident of Zimbabwe who actively participates in meetings whose object involves imposing sanctions or trade embargo against Zimbabwe shall be guilty of wilfully damaging the sovereignty and national interest of Zimbabwe. It reads:
Upon conviction, the courts can impose a fine not exceeding level 10 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years, or both; additionally or alternatively on the motion of the prosecutor, to any one or more of the following, if the offence is attended by aggravating circumstances — termination of the citizenship of the convicted person, if the convicted person is a citizen by registration or a dual citizen: Provided that the convicting court shall not impose this penalty if it would effectively render the convicted person stateless; cancellation of the permanent resident status of the convicted person, if the convicted person is a permanent resident; or prohibition from being registered as a voter or voting at an election for a period of at least five years but not exceeding fifteen years.
The Bill also says those convicted of actively encouraging sanctions will be prohibited:
… from filling a public office for a period of at least five years but not exceeding fifteen (15) years, and, if he or she holds any such office, the convicting court may declare that that office shall be vacated by the convicted person from the date of his or her conviction, unless the tenure of the public office in question is regulated exclusively by or in terms of the Constitution.
If the amendments are passed into law, Zimbabwean citizens who call for military or other armed intervention in Zimbabwe by a foreign government will face the death penalty. It reads:
Any citizen or permanent resident of Zimbabwe who, within or outside Zimbabwe, actively partakes (whether himself or herself or through an agent, and whether on his or her own initiative or at the invitation of the foreign government concerned or any of its agents, proxies or entities) in any meeting whose object the accused knows or has reasonable grounds for believing involves the consideration of or the planning for – military or other armed intervention in Zimbabwe by the foreign government concerned or another foreign government, or by any of their agents, proxies or entities; or subverting, upsetting, overthrowing or overturning constitutional government in Zimbabwe; shall be guilty of wilfully damaging the national interest of Zimbabwe and liable to — the same penalties as for treason; or the same penalties as for subverting constitutional government, in a case referred to in paragraph (b).
ZANU PF director for information and publicity, Tafadzwa Mugwadi, welcomed the Bill, saying “national interests are sacrosanct to all Zimbabweans, notwithstanding their differences, political or otherwise.” | The Sunday Mail