Former Petrotrade Chair Suggests Banning Zimbabwe Critics From Holding Public Office
Tinomudaishe Chinyoka, former Petrotrade Board Chair, suggests banning individuals who speak negatively about Zimbabwe from holding public office. He believes badmouthing the country while abroad is detrimental to its diplomatic relationships and should be considered a crime.
In a Twitter post seen by Pindula News, Chinyoka said while it’s acceptable to criticise politicians in Zimbabwe to win votes, doing so outside the country to isolate Zimbabwe is not. Chinyoka wants those who offend to face a ban on holding public office for up to 10 years. He hopes this will deter politicians who cannot win on the ballot from inviting international regime change agents to help them gain an advantage.
His remarks were in response to a video in which Fadzayi Mahere, the spokesperson of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) told the United Nations’ 15th Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy that Zimbabwe was under a dictatorship worse than Robert Mugabe. In response, Chinyoka who is also a ZANU PF official said:
I have been on the fence regarding the practice of badmouthing one’s country while abroad, until now. I think it should be a crime, as it is detrimental to the country’s diplomatic relationships. Bad mouthing politicians in Zimbabwe in order to win votes is fine, but doing it outside the country to achieve the isolation of the country is not. Offenders should be banned from holding any public office for periods of up to 10 years. That way, politicians who cannot win votes on the ballot are deterred from inviting international regime change agents to help them get a leg up.
On 23 December 2022, the Zimbabwean government gazetted the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Amendment Bill, also known as the Patriotic Bill. The bill aims to punish citizens for crimes such as treason and damaging the national interest of Zimbabwe. Those found guilty may lose citizenship or be barred from voting and holding public office.
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The bill has faced criticism from civil society organizations and opposition parties, who say it’s an attempt by the ZANU PF-led government to silence critics. The bill also includes provisions for termination of citizenship, prohibition from voting, and filling public office for periods of up to 15 years.