ZANU PF’s social media brigade, Varakashi4ED, has petitioned attorney general Prince Machaya compelling him to expedite the drafting of the controversial patriotic bill.
If passed into law, the bill will, among other things, criminalise criticism of the country.
Varakashi4ED’s move comes just as President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration is trying to silence critics, most notably journalist and activist Hopewell Chin’ono who strongly criticised it for its glaring failures at last week’s United Nations (UN) human rights summit in Geneva, Swtizerland.
Chin’ono ruffled feathers within the ruling party and government circles when he detailed failure by Mnangagwa’s administration to invest in the health sector, its disregard for human rights and corruption.
The patriotic bill would be similar to America’s Logan Act.
“As Varakashi4ED we are outraged and concerned that in spite of the destructive effect of the sanctions to Zimbabwe being so obvious and so acknowledged by majority of the international community, there are some Zimbabweans who have proved to be unpatriotic malcontents hell bent on begging for the sanctions to stay on,” reads the petition.
“Recent cases of Zimbabweans begging for sanctions are the MDC-CCC’s sanctions begging trips they made to the USA congress and the UK Chatham House in 2018 and subsequent years. The latest case being that of one Hopewell Chin’ono who on 6 April 2022 in Geneva misrepresented the Zimbabwe situation in a shameless attempt to beg for more sanctions against Zimbabwe,” they said.
“We are also outraged and concerned that there has been no law made to discourage sanctions incitement in spite of the obvious toxicity of the sanctions and relentless calls for the enactment of a law to criminalise such unpatriotic acts like sanctions incitement, colluding with foreign powers and misrepresenting the Zimbabwe situation.”
“We therefore call upon your esteemed office to do its part pronto and assist the government of Zimbabwe to enact the Patriotic Act which should be equivalent of the USA’s Logan Act which in essence prohibits and criminalises Zimbabwean citizens and residents from engaging in unauthorised foreign negotiations, parallel diplomacy, foreign lobbying, sanctions incitement and foreign political and economic relations with countries in dispute with Zimbabwe or hostile to Zimbabwe.”
Varakashi4ED are allegedly part of the ruling party’s social media propaganda team that is being paid to counter anti-establishment narratives on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms.