On Wednesday, the government announced that political parties should be placed under a uniform code of conduct where “hate speech” is defined by the ruling party mandarins.
The proposal is to put up legislation and a code of conduct to regulate the operations and conduct of all political parties and that ‘campaigning against one’s country’ shall be legislated at law and criminalised.
Laws are also to 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.
The recommendations, which government claims were made by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, have no place in a democracy and are tantamount to taking Zimbabwe back to the Stone Age. Mr President, why are you so afraid of your people? The long and short of the proposals indicate a desperate regime that wants to silence all voices.
They did it through unleashing terror on innocent protesters, journalists and activists across the country in the week leading to the July 31 protests and shamelessly, they now want a law to criminalise free speech, assembly and all freedoms.
Labelling people terrorists is not “love speech” and all the hate is coming from the corridors of the ruling Zanu PF party offices through President Emmerson Mnangagwa and acting spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa.
Actually, Chinamasa’s rants betray his frustrations after he failed to land a Cabinet post he so desperately wanted to shore up his waning fortunes. It’s not surprising why he has personalised all his party arguments to his reputation’s detriment.
You don’t need a law to stop hate speech. Zanu PF leaders must lead by example, but then, they are incapable of anything coherent so they resort to the bush tactics to muddy the waters and smear everybody in sight with mud.
We have witnessed arbitrary arrests of activists and citizens of late and hundreds of them now are staying in the bush, fleeing the regime and its actors who are pursuing them like common criminals for expressing their disgruntlement.
The reality is people are suffering, hungry, desperate and hopeless and the Zanu PF leadership is bereft of ideas, solutions or hope. So, they resort to harassing those that point out their weaknesses and grand State looting heists.
People are saying they can’t breathe from corruption, mismanagement of public funds, hunger and beatings by the State. It cannot be criminal to point out that you are leading this country down the wrong path.
The situation has been made worse by the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic, whose funds are being looted by the leadership which has so far proffered no solutions or plan. Now, seeking to silence the people for speaking out against the rot simply shows a party and leadership gravely out of touch and whose greed and cruelty knows no bounds.
For some reason, Zanu PF and its leadership are happier on a muggy, soggy outfield on a foggy night to obscure its thievery and wretchedness. But Zimbabweans know that the sun will always come out tomorrow. Zanu PF must decide how it wants to be seen when the sun comes out. The world is watching and the party and its leadership are not spinning their way out of this smog.