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Zimbabwe: Freedoms threatened by 'terrible' new law

Zimbabwe: Freedoms threatened by 'terrible' new law
President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa   -  
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Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP


Zimbabwe's parliament has barred criticism of the government ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled in August.

According to reports, violations of the new law is punishable by up to 20 years in jail.

The Criminal Law Code Amendment Bill, widely known as the "Patriotic Bill", contains a clause that criminalises "wilfully damaging the sovereignty and national interest of Zimbabwe", Reuters quoted in a report.

the law, passed late on Wednesday, was designed to punish citizens, civil society organisations and political adversaries of the ruling ZANU-PF party.

It has raised fears that the government could launch a crackdown on dissent ahead of the general election on Aug. 23, where President Emmerson Mnangagwa will be seeking a second term.

lawyer and pastor Nelson Chamisa, 45, who leads the newly formed Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) will be his main contender.

CCC spokesperson and lawyer, Fadzayi Mahere, described the law as "dangerous" and said it aimed at closing the democratic space ahead of elections.

"ZANU-PF has reduced our great nation into an outpost of tyranny," Mahere told Reuters.

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