BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
A SENIOR official in the Justice ministry, Patience Dhokwani yesterday told Parliament that Zimbabwe had no law to penalise citizens for soliciting for imposition of sanctions on the country.
Dhokwani appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs chaired by Webster Shamu to give oral evidence in response to a petition by the Zimbabwe Anti Sanctions Trust, which asked Parliament to enact laws that criminalise calling for imposition of sanctions on the country.
The ruling Zanu PF party recently proposed the crafting of a Patriotic Bill, to criminalise calling for sanctions among other issues.
Dhokwani said her ministry was concerned that there were some citizens who were calling for sanctions, showing that they did not have the interests of the nation at heart.
“These actions are aimed at discrediting government efforts to promote and protect the national interest, including Zimbabwe’s foreign relations and policy agenda,” Dhokwani said.
“What is there in our law is the lacuna (gap) that we discovered, that is, the failure of current legal systems to have provisions that criminalise the unauthorised communication or negotiations by private citizens with foreign governments that have a direct or indirect implication of Zimbabwe foreign relations and policy.
“There is no law — whether statutory law or common law that provides for the regulation of this area of citizen endeavour. Our law has a lacuna when it comes to private citizens with foreign relations.
“We have to develop that if we are to criminalise these acts, there are repercussions that will follow if one acts against what is in the Act. We thought that this proposed law will try to cover the gap that is in existence, “she said.
Dhokwani said if enacted, she did not think that the proposed Patriotic Bill would not tamper with the freedom of expression of persons as guaranteed by the Constitution.
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