The greatest unpatriotism is keeping quiet when ruling elite destroys Zimbabwe!

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

So, the Parliament of Zimbabwe has gone ahead, in spite of all the public outrage, into passing the draconian so-called ‘Patriotic Bill’.

I should say that there was nothing particularly surprising over this brazen move by the ZANU PF-dominated parliament endorsing such an oppressive piece of legislation.

We have all experienced this regime’s diabolical wrath from the day they entered the halls of power in 1980 – with a string of barbaric atrocities against perceived ‘enemies’ – resulting in the cold-blooded massacres of tens of thousands of innocent unarmed civilians.

We have now become somehow accustomed to watching those who once touted themselves as our ‘liberators’, swiftly morphing into ruthless savage oppressors – easily making the colonial regime appear like mere kindergarten toddlers.

In the recent past, renowned opposition and human rights activists have been relentlessly arrested on spurious charges – through the disgraceful weaponization of the law – all meant to intimidate them into submission and silence.

In spite of most seldom ever being convicted of any crimes – nonetheless, the Zimbabwe regime has sought to break the spirit of those it has been hounding and persecuting – through the repeated denial of their rights to bail by the courts.

We have seen this in the case of firebrand opposition CCC legislator Job Sikhala – who has been languishing in prison for nearly a year now.

In some instances, the courts have shockingly found them guilty for simply urging impoverished Zimbabweans to peacefully exercise their constitutional right to protest the unbearable suffering they have endured under the heinous kleptomaniac ZANU PF military junta.

The name of opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume readily comes to mind – who was jailed for an effective four years a few months ago.

As such, it comes as no shock at all, when this same repressive administration finds absolutely nothing wrong with enacting a law that criminalizes Zimbabwe citizens who cry over their miserable existence and poverty.

Surely, what can be more tyrannical than threatening to arrest and jail – for anything between ten years and life imprisonment – any who may dare take their grievances to the international arena, in a desperate bid for their pain and suffering to be taken seriously?

As a matter of fact, is that not what we also saw during the colonial era – as various nationalist leaders, as Joshua Nyongolo Nkomo, Edson Zvobgo, Herbert Wiltshire Chitepo, and many others traversed the globe – in an endeavour to bring to world attention the dire horrible plight of the ordinary citizenry?

What was wrong with that?

Were they ‘wilfully damaging the sovereignty and national interests of the country’ – as what they were doing is the same thing now being criminalized under this ‘Patriotic Bill’?

Are we, then, to say our former liberation movements, including ZANU PF itself, were also ‘unpatriotic’?

In fact, they did not go to the then OAU, UN, China, Soviet Union, and Europe just to talk about the marginalization, segregation and subjugation of the majority – but additionally, actively called for economic sanctions against the country.

They went further by not only pleading for military assistance to wage an armed war against the then constitutional government – but also actually travelled to some of these countries to receive military training.

I then ask, “When the likes of President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa were fighting the liberation struggle, were they waging a war against their own country”?

Who were the ones who really ‘took an active part in a meeting involving or convened by an agent of a foreign government for the object of subverting or overthrowing a constitutional government’?

Who went all over the world urging foreign governments to ‘consider, implement or extend sanctions or a trade boycott against the country’?

In fact, were these nationalist movements not over the moon, when finally the UN-imposed economic sanctions against the country in 1965?

Are these not the same provisions of this ‘Patriotic Bill’?

Yet, what we witness with our opposition and human rights activists today is glaringly different.

There has never been anyone who actively and wilfully partook in any proven meeting with a foreign government ‘for the object of subverting or overthrowing a constitutional government, or to consider, implement or extend sanctions or a trade boycott against the country’.

If they have been any, then they would have long been arrested, convicted and incarcerated in Zimbabwe a long time ago.

Let us remember one thing – some of these activities criminalized in this ‘Patriotic Bill’, were already criminal acts under existing laws.

Zimbabwe has very clear and unambiguous laws pertaining to treason, and subverting a constitutional government – which are both crimes under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act – which attract a maximum sentence of life imprisonment (for treason), and twenty years (for subverting a constitutional government).

The crime of treason is defined as that committed by any citizen or resident of Zimbabwe who does an act, or incites, conspires with or assists anyone else to do any act, inside or outside Zimbabwe, with the intention of ‘overthrowing’ the government.

Section 20(2) provides the specifics of what constitutes treason – but, by and large, the intention would be to overthrow the government.

As for actions that harm the country’s economy – according to the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Section 31(a) – it is considered an offence on ‘any person who, whether inside or outside Zimbabwe, publishes or communicates to any other person a statement which is wholly or materially false with the intention or realizing that there is a real risk or possibility of adversely affecting the defence or economic interests of Zimbabwe’.

This crime attracts a twenty-year jail term.

Therefore, why has no one ever been convicted of any of these crimes – more so, as the ZANU regime is so fond of accusing the main opposition CCC of ‘inviting sanctions against the country’.

Actually, the ruling establishment has gone a step further claiming that the opposition was not only actively training some militants for an armed insurgency – but also that all their planned demonstrations where aimed at ‘effecting illegal regime change’.

Yet, in all these wild allegations, not a single opposition member has ever been found guilty of any of these very serious crimes.


I am sure the answer does not need a rocket scientist.

All these accusations are simply outrageous and nonsensical – a pure work of fiction.

Furthermore, if the Zimbabwe government wants to hide behind ‘lacking sufficient evidence’ – then why enact this envisioned ‘Patriotic Act’ when they have no proof of anyone ever actually ‘calling for sanctions’ or planning ‘illegal regime change’?

What I strongly suspect is that this proposed law has only two aims.

The first is obviously to instil terror in opposition and human rights activists – since it will be added to the toolbox of laws that are abused for the purpose of persecuting voices of dissent.

Even in the absence of any incontrovertible evidence of a criminal act having actually been committed – the regime will be content with holding vocal activists under lock and key, without a meaningful trial, and repeatedly denied bail – as is happening to Sikhala.

The second objective is playing to the gallery – as a means of political grandstanding by the ruling party – in their continued efforts in portraying the opposition as ‘unpatriotic’ and ‘working against the country by inviting sanctions’.

As we head towards the 23rd August 2023 harmonized elections, the enactment of this ‘Patriotic Act’ will be used as a campaign strategy by ZANU PF, in trying show that the opposition are the ‘enemies of Zimbabwe’.

Nonetheless, we all know that truth.

None of us who boldly speak truth to power are against the country or its people.

In fact, we speak for the oppressed and suffering people – against a callous heartless ruling elite, who have ruined the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans – through the grand looting of our national resources.

Speaking out against our hunger and inability to afford a decent livelihood, or lack of potable water, or inaccessible health care – can never be described as ‘unpatriotic’.

There is no way we will be frightened into silence.

As a matter of fact, speaking out against oppression, human rights abuses and our suffering – authored by Zimbabwe’s ruling elite, no matter at which platform – is our right, and can never, under any circumstances, be described as ‘denigrating one’s country’, or ‘unpatriotic’.

The highest form of patriotism is holding to account those who are tarnishing our country’s image by wantonly violating their citizens’ rights and pillaging our resources.

Who was recently hogging world news headlines for plundering our gold, and his willingness to help international criminals in laundering their dirty money?

Were these members of the opposition, or those in power in Zimbabwe?

Those enriching themselves through the looting of our resources – while impoverishing millions of Zimbabweans, in the process – are the ones who are unpatriotic!

The greatest disservice and betrayal to the country is keeping quiet about, or even defending, this ‘unpatriotism’.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: or visit website:

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