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The case for a Logan Act in Zimbabwe

04 Nov 2019 at 14:03hrs | Views
During the run up to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Anti-Sanctions Day held on 25 October 2019, Zimbabwe witnessed frenzied activity especially on the social media with the American Embassy in the country mounting an "ItsCorruptionandNotSanction" campaign to discredit the region's anti-sanction effort.

Apart from setting aside a US$5 million kitty to support the fight against the SADC anti-sanctions crusade, the US' initiative depended on local anti-Government activists and organisations such as Bus Stop TV, Team Pachedu, 263Chat and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) to do much of its donkey work. The MDC strategically absented itself from this list of shame to create an impression of independence from its owners and handlers, the American government and local embassy.

This open and unashamed co-operation with a foreign government against one's people, Government and national interest has seen progressive Zimbabweans raising the question of the propriety of such behaviour. One person who has been consistent in his quest to put a stop to this bad and dangerous habit is ZANU PF Chief Whip, Pupurai Togarepi who hascalled out the unpatriotic Zimbabweans who are working with foreign governments for a dirty dime against their own people.

"ZANU PF is considering enacting a law that will make it criminal for any Zimbabwean to call for sanctions against the country or be found in any suspicious engagement with foreign enemies of the country. We have already initiated the process of coming up with something similar to the Patriots Act wherein no member of the public or a member of the legislature can go out of the country or associate with people who are against us as a people," Togarepi told the media recently.

Apart from the aforementioned motley group of anti-government organisations, the opposition outfit, the MDC is the foremost anti-Zimbabwe organisation which jumps at every opportunity to act and speak against the country. This is driven mainly by the party's own lack of sound ideology and meaningful programmes to improve people's lives which would endear it to the electorate. This has left the party vulnerable to manipulation by the likes of the US government which has its own nefarious agenda of regime change. The party has been using unpatriotic activities as a weapon to fight and spite ZANU PF which it has failed to dislodge from power for the last two decades despite limitless financial resources from the West.

The world remembers how the MDC's founding leader, the late Morgan Tsvangirai appealed to South Africa to cut Zimbabwe from fuel and electricity supplies to fight his own people and government. In December 2017,MDC leader, Nelson Chamisa, MDC co-vice President, Professor Welshman Ncube and Human Rights Watch Southern Africa Director flew to the US on a trip to request that country to maintain sanctions on Zimbabwe.

This is despite, during the tenure of the government of national unity (GNU) the MDC co-vice president and Tsvangirai joined ZANU PF in calling for the removal of the illegal sanctions imposed by the West on Zimbabwe for reclaiming her land from the minority white former farmers. They went on to appeal for the punitive measures to be lifted.

The party's fickleness and lack of commitment to the welfare of Zimbabweans were exposed in August last year when Biti, stung by his party's electoral loss to ZANU PF during the polls held the previous month, vowed that "we will mobilise for more sanctions. ZANU PF won't get a penny" (from Western donors)." Just before the SADC anti-sanctions event, the MDC sought to counter the march by organising its own demonstration which fell flat on its face as less than 20 people turned up.

Biti, who continues to be consumed by bitterness over the MDC's 30 July 2018 poll loss, is getting more and more unpatriotically careless with his words. He recently tweeted that Government thinks that "the world owes Zimbabwe something. It doesn't. That Zimbabwe is special. It is not."  The same tweet describes his own country as a "little tin pot run down by fascists looters and scoundrels." While the Constitution entitles every Zimbabwean the freedom of expression, there must be limit beyond which one can be allowed to abuse their own country in the name of the right to the freedom of expression. One can disagree with his country's leadership but to describe one's own country as a tin pot is an insult to the people.

All this demonstrates that to the MDC, unpatriotic behaviour is a weapon against ZANU PF and Government while other unpatriotic groups such as Bus Stop TV are driven mainly by the lure of lucre. Whatever the motive, no one should be allowed to continue to undermine their own people and Government sans consequences.

Initially some people thought that Togarepi was taking the patriotism issue to extremes given the Constitution's right to the freedom of expression and association, but an analysis of the MDC and other anti-Government elements' behaviour leave one inclined to agree with him. Even the US which such members of the Zimbabwean society looks up to as a role model and some form of a political deity have their own Patriots Act named the Logan Act.

Named after a Philadelphia doctor, George Logan, who travelled to Paris to negotiate for the lifting of an embargo against America in 1798 at a time of heightened tension between the United States and the revolutionary government in France, the legislation outlawed"the interference of individuals in the negotiation of our Executive with the Governments of foreign countries" without the authority of the US government.

The law also coversunsanctioned correspondence or interaction between US citizens and foreign Governments or their agents. Tsvangirai's contemplation to "eliminate" former President, the late Robert Mugabe with the assistance of Ari Ben Menashe of Dickens and Madisons of the US readily comes to mind as a contravention if Zimbabwe had a similar law.Under the law, in 1966, the US State Department confiscated the passports of Americans who had travelled to Vietnam to broker a peace agreement.

Given the protracted nature of the Brexit negotiations between Britain and the European Union (EU) some British citizens are approaching the bloc privately in the hope of reaching a settlement, a development which has seen some Britons wondering whether it not time for Britain to enact its own edition of a Logan Act. In June, last year Canadians also registered their disquiet over former prime minister,Stephen Harper's secret visit to the White House amidtense trade relations between the two neighbours. This also generated debate on the need for a local Logan law to contain the likes of Harper.

So Togarepi and other like-minded Zimbabweans are not alone. They have global counterparts such as the Britons and Canadians who strongly feel that their respective countries need local Logan Acts to restrain the Bitis, the Chamisas, the Harpers and even the Bus Stop TVs of their countries so that diplomacy is not reduced to a free for all muhacha womumusha (community fruit tree) which anyone partakes without protocol. A local Logan law is very necessary and a matter of urgency to safeguard the country's national interest from errant and power-hungry citizens who are prepared to sacrifice national interest for personal ambition.

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