The European Union (EU) ambassador to Zimbabwe, Timo Olkkonen has warned President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration against enacting laws that are detrimental to citizens’ enjoyment of political liberties and freedom of speech.
Speaking at the 2021 Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe World Press Freedom Day commemorations, Olkkonen lauded Harare for the progress it has made in some areas but warned other proposed new laws would, however, erode all the progress made.
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Olkkonen said the proposed Patriotic Bill was a reversal of the progress Zimbabwe has made. He said:
Besides the progress on the legal framework, the reform agenda should adopt a holistic approach than a fragmented approach so that the gains made under one law might not be eroded under another.
MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa) has referred to this as claw-back laws and indeed it is important that progress in other areas is not undermined by underdevelopment in other areas.
We have made reference to other laws having seen progress in access to information and (freedom) of association, it is important that other laws do not undermine this progress.
The EU has been concerned about the proposals of the Patriotic Bill. There is a need for a holistic approach, of looking at all the legislation together and see what are the effects on political liberties and on freedom of speech.
Last week, MDC Alliance Deputy Chairperson Job Sikhala claimed the ZANU PF-led government was mooting on making new constitutional amendments, including the Patriotic Bill, to bar MDC Alliance President Nelson Chamisa and his deputy Tendai Biti from contesting in elections in 2023.