Mugabe outlaws opposition and bans free speech
Tawanda Hondora, chairman of Lawyers for Human Rights, said:
Mr Hondora said the effect of the new laws would be to ban any political party which challenges the ruling Zanu PF, including the key opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change. Anyone who publishes any information likely to "excite people or express dissatisfaction with the president, the government or the police" will commit an offence and could face 10 years' jail. Mr Hondora said:
The bill also introduces heavy sentences for petty acts, such as throwing a stone at a government building, which can be construed as terrorism and could carry a sentence of 20 years' or life imprisonment. Anyone who complains about the way a policeman discharges his duties could go to prison for 10 years. Under the new legislation police can detain suspects for seven days before bringing them to court and bail would automatically be denied for those accused of terrorism, murder and rape.
The government also hopes to push through other repressive legislation which will make it a criminal offence for any journalist, foreign or domestic, to continue working if not approved and licensed by the government. Another piece of pending labour law will outlaw all strikes. The government said the inflation rate had gone higher than 100 per cent for the first time in the nation's history, despite price controls enforced since October. Mr Mugabe said in his state of the nation address yesterday that America's effort to impose sanctions on him and his senior aides was "repugnant" and "provocative". The US Congress has passed a bill, still to be signed into law, allowing the White House to impose sanctions on Mr Mugabe and any aides found to be behind political violence. He blamed Zimbabwe's "erstwhile colonial oppressor Britain" for masterminding a European Union move towards sanctions. TOP