Zimbabwe passes bill to punish 'unpatriotic acts'

Zimbabwe's parliament has approved a contentious measure that would allow for the imposition of harsh fines or possibly the death penalty as retribution for "unpatriotic acts" by individuals.

Zimbabwe passes bill to punish 'unpatriotic acts'

 It has been dubbed a dark day for democracy by critics.

The "national interest of Zimbabwe" is the focus of the so-called "patriot clause" in the Criminal Act.

Any citizen who meets with a foreign official with the intention of promoting sanctions against Zimbabwe or toppling the government is included.

Western sanctions on numerous senior government officials and state-owned businesses stem from suspected violations of human rights,

They seek to put an end to meetings between the opposition and foreign dignitaries and have long held the opposition responsible for this.

 One of Emmerson Mnangagwa's most contentious laws was approved by Parliament by a vote of 99 to 17 in his favor.

The next step is for it to go to the senate before becoming law.

Critics claim that the law is illegal because it would violate people's rights to free expression and association.

According to a representative of the opposition, upholding human rights rather than making criticism illegal is the best approach to lift sanctions.

A number of revisions to the Criminal Act were made, including the contentious ones.

Legislators also voted in favor of rape minimum punishments.