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Harare’s Hardline Response to Dissidence

Zimbabwe’s government is moving ahead with plans to criminalise political parties and the media for what it calls campaigning against the state. This emerged as a cabinet resolution on Wednesday afternoon amid the backdrop of global condemnation of abductions and crackdown on civil liberties ahead of the thwarted July 31 public demonstrations. Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga is expected to present the cabinet’s recommendations to parliament in due course. “Legislation and a code of conduct will be put in place to regulate the operations and conduct of all political parties,” said women and youth affairs minister Sithembiso Nyoni. The government accuses the opposition of being the auxiliaries of Western countries, who it says are behind socio-economic instability in Zimbabwe. Nyoni said the government will strengthen existing laws to “prohibit hate speech by public officials, media houses and citizens in public places and social, print and electronic media platforms”. Journalists and social media users have been at the forefront of exposing government corruption, giving birth to the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter movement in recent days. Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono is in remand prison having been denied bail twice for allegedly inciting civilians to demonstrate against the government. Politician Jacob Ngarivhume was arrested under the same charge. Another journalist, Mduduzi Mathuthu, went into hiding after state security agents kidnapped his nephew Tawanda Muchehiwa.