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Yes, you can legislate for patriotism

21 Mar 2021 at 08:19hrs | Views
GROWING up in the village, one gets to appreciate the fact that not all dogs are the same.

They are actually two distinct types: the abidingly loyal and disciplined type, and the hopelessly useless and truant ones.

We once had a dog that everyone wished would live forever.

It was everything that one expected a dog to be — a consummate hunter, reliable sentinel and an incredibly sweet companion.

Well, far from the romanticised fantasy it is made out to be, hunting with dogs is not that simple — it is bloody and brutal!

When the chase is on, not only will you have to jump over brushes and skirt around thistles, but you also have to be nimble-footed enough to keep up with the hunting pack, lest you arrive after the prey would have been devoured to nothingness by blood-thirsty and hungry hounds.

But not with this special dog.

After making a kill, it was normal to find it in a sphinx pose next to the prey, all the while growling to keep other dogs at bay.

During the day, it was an adorable pet, but at night it turned into a fearsome monster. It seemed to have been wired with a human brain.

However, we, as did our fellow villagers, had our fair share of those species that give dogs a bad name.

Yes, those scrawny and roving dogs that endlessly scamper around yards sniffing around for food crumbs.

Oftentimes they were caught in the act of either pilfering eggs in the fowl run or nibbling through pots and pans in the kitchen.

They were an absolute nightmare for visitors, who sometimes had to live without a shoe or two, especially the smelly ones, as they would have been secreted away.

And somehow these dogs would sleep through the night and day, giving unannounced wanderers and thieves a free berth.

Although they were a nuisance, there was no option but to put up with them and constantly use the stick to put them on the straight and narrow.

Man and the law

So it is in life.

Every society has its equal share of law-abiding citizens as well as serial troublemakers who constantly need to be put on the straight and narrow by using the law.

These miscreants are part of us and all we can do is to try to prevent them from causing harm to themselves and society.

As Bishop Lazi once said, man was not made for the law, but the law was made for man.

Romans 7:7 is instructive: "What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, "You shall not covet."

Laws are constantly evolving to keep up with changing situations and circumstances.

Last year, when the country needed all the help it could get to contain the coronavirus, the World Bank decided to extend a US$7 million facility to assist.

However, this news did not sit well with the opposition, particularly Tendai Biti, who decided to dispatch a missive to World Bank Group president David Malpass on May 21 encouraging him to attach some conditionalities to the facility.

"Any assistance must not be allowed to further enrich or entrench the very people who have destroyed our economy and democracy. Indeed, the regime is already using the lockdown as a pretext for further theft and repression," read part of the patronising letter from the garrulous and foul-mouthed politician.

But that was not the only thing that was wrong with Biti's letter, as it was eerily similar to the one forwarded to Malpass by the US Senate chairperson for the committee on Foreign Relations, James Risch, on June 2.

Coincidentally, it also urged "the World Bank to impose very strict benchmarks and transparency and accountability processes on the US$7 million grant and any future programme for Zimbabwe".

Such a coincidence could not have been fortuitous since it betrays well-coordinated behind-the-scenes dalliances between the opposition and hostile political parties to scupper the country's progress.

It is, therefore, unsurprising that beyond token solidarity messages, the country has not received any meaningful financial support to fight the raging pandemic.

But Father Christmas has been smiling on some of our neighbours.

Despite being Africa's second-biggest economy after Nigeria, South Africa, for example, was blessed with a US$4,3 billion emergency financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in July last year to address Covid-19 pandemic.

A month earlier, the New Development Bank (NDB) — which was established by the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) bloc — approved a US$1 billion payment to South Africa to aid its coronavirus response.

Overall, Pretoria has had to use the US$5,3 billion kitty to fight off the virus.

Similarly, Mozambique and Zambia got US$309 million and US$193 million support respectively from the IMF.

Zimbabwe, with support from some cooperating partners and friendly nations, has had to go it alone.

Yet, even when it has had to go to extraordinary lengths by guaranteeing private-sector loans to help industries affected by the fallout from the coronavirus, it has been scandalously accused of impropriety, an allegation which is again weaponised and used to demonise and sully Government's image. Well, Biti's letter to Malpass is just an anecdote of what has been happening over the past 20 years.

We have had Zimbabweans actively assisting hostile countries to draft laws to suffocate the country financially.

They are even prepared to act as a sounding board on measures to continue to undermine the country's interests.

We all saw what happened in December 2017 when the merry band of Nelson Chamisa, Dewa Mavhinga and Tendai Biti, among others, trooped to Washington to lobby the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee to maintain ZDERA (Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act), even as the political transition presented an opportunity for the country to move forward unencumbered by strained relations of the past.

Of course, these hopeless political activists have the misbegotten view that the more the country suffers, the more people would become disaffected with the Government, and the more they are likely to be voted into power.

They believe people's suffering can be expediently harnessed into an instrument to effect regime change.

It rarely works that way.

Making patriots

But this has to stop, and the proposed Patriot Bill is the stick that we need to set the hopelessly useless and truant ones among us on the straight and narrow.

As expected, they have become hysterically fretful.

While outlawing private correspondence with foreign governments and discouraging actions that harm our national interests — as this law seeks to do — is fairly innocuous, for those who rely on the same hostile forces for financial support and to tilt the political scales in their favour, this is an existential threat. Bishop Lazi was quite amused by suggestions that patriotism could not be legislated, as it is an inexorable feeling that comes naturally. It would have been true if the practice was not that common.

Yes, you can literally legislate for patriotism. For as long as the Bishop can remember, America has been literally frogmarching its people to war through conscriptions for the American Revolutionary War, the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean War and the Vietnam War.

During World War I they even enacted the Selective Service Act, which established "a liability for military service of all male citizens".

Although the law was challenged in the courts, the US Supreme Court famously upheld it in January 1918 by emphasising the principle of reciprocal rights and duties of citizens.

Conscriptions are still in force today, albeit on a contingency basis.

Anyone and everyone is duty-bound to unconditionally defend their country's national interest.

But most relevantly, Washington has had a law — the Logan Act — that forbids undesignated individuals from engaging with foreign countries on behalf of the US for more than 200 years.

With what the country has gone through in the past two decades, especially the economic cost of sanctions instigated by hostile countries with the connivance of abiding locals, it is way past time we have a similarly crafted law.

Indeed laws evolve with situations and circumstances.

You might have heard about the proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill in the UK, which partly deals with how protests are expected to be conducted.

In essence, it proposes to restrict protests if it can be proven that they have the potential to cause "serious public disorder, serious damage to property or serious disruption to the life of the community".

It also gives the police wide discretionary powers to impose the start and finish time for protests, set noise limits and impose the same on one-man protests.

Violations can attract fines as steep as £2 500, which is equivalent to $294 000 in Zimbabwe dollars. Kikikiki.

It gets even worse.

Damage to public property can attract a hefty 10 years in prison.

One shudders to think what would have been the reaction had the law been proposed by our teapot-shaped Republic.

Well, the UK has learnt from recent experience the limitations of freedom of speech and expression. Rights are simply not absolute, and what is good for the goose is also good for the gander.

Bishop out!

Source - sundaymail
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