HomeOpinionCandid Comment: Zanu PF’s quest for blind patriotism

Candid Comment: Zanu PF’s quest for blind patriotism

BRIAN CHITEMBA
The current government leadership was birthed out of a crop of pre-independence nationalists.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa and many others — living and dead — fought colonial oppression and finally, introduced democracy which allowed universal suffrage, among many civil liberties.

But the liberation struggle nationalists have failed to live up to expectation. It all started with the late former president Robert Mugabe, who was a darling to many in 1980 before turning into a villain. Mugabe is remembered as an autocratic leader who had a tainted history of crushing dissent from the Gukurahundi era to the 2008 presidential election run-off violence.

The new dispensation led by Mnangagwa is perpetuating Mugabe’s authoritarianism. Besides, the President was Mugabe’s disciple for over 50 years.

This is why the Zanu PF government is pushing for a draconian Patriotic Bill, which when it becomes law, will criminalise private correspondence by “self-serving citizens” with foreign governments or any officer/agent. A Zanu PF linked group — Varakashi4ED — has petitioned the Attorney-General Prince Machaya to fast tract the Bill.

“We, therefore, call upon your (Machaya’s) office to do its part pronto and assist the government of Zimbabwe to enact the Patriotic Act, which should be equivalent of the United States of America’s Logan Act, which in essence prohibits and criminalises Zimbabwean citizens and residents from engaging in authorised foreign negotiations, parallel diplomacy, foreign lobbying, sanctions incitement and foreign political and economic relations with countries in dispute with Zimbabwe or hostile to Zimbabwe,” wrote Varakashi4ED.

The proposed law’s timing is telling. Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the Zanu PF government will weaponise the law to target its critics. Lawfare has become commonplace.

Even 17th century British philosopher John Locke would write against such blatant authoritarianism. Locke, a pioneer of modern empiricism, advocated for use of reason to search for the truth rather than gullibly accept opinions of authorities. Thus, Zimbabweans must speak against the mutilation of the Constitution.

After all, Zimbabwe is a constitutional democracy with human rights protected by the supreme governance charter. But as the nation prepares for the 2023 elections, liberal democracy is suffering.

Even political theorists and philosophers view patriotism as love and devotion to one’s country. Forced patriotism will not work. Instead, it will work against Zanu PF as Zimbabweans who hoped for change after the November 2017 coup, will begrudge the ruling party for strangling democracy.

Zanu PF, through the Patriotic Bill, seeks to entrench what it considers good citizenship. But for all intents and purposes, the ruling party wants blind patriotism where no one should criticise those in power.  That is not how liberal democracy works. Otherwise, the liberation nationalists fought in vain.

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