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Opposition Zimbabwe Members of Parliament Facing US$5,000 Fines for ‘Disrespecting’ Mnangagwa

FILE - Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa delivers his State of the nation address at the opening session of parliament in Harare, Oct. 1, 2019.
FILE - Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa delivers his State of the nation address at the opening session of parliament in Harare, Oct. 1, 2019.

Current and former opposition Movement for Democratic Change lawmakers are expected to pay hefty fines of up to US$5,000 each if parliament adopts recommendations by a committee investigating them for allegedly disrespecting President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The committee also recommended that they should be stripped of their diplomatic passports.

Committee chairperson, Jonathan Samkange, said indications are that the Senate and House of Assembly would approve the recommendations.

But opposition lawmakers say the move is designed to dismantle the opposition. Clifford Hlatshwayo, deputy spokesperson of the MDC Alliance, said the lawmakers did not break any parliamentary rules when they sang, danced or disrespected Mnangagwa as the party still believes that he was not legitimately elected president of Zimbabwe.

The United States says the ruling Zanu PF party is misusing the levers of government to silence critics, neutralize opposition, and entrench its political power over the Zimbabwean people.

In a statement, the U.S. Department of State, said President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government should comply with its obligation to respect the freedoms of expression and association enshrined in the country’s constitution and its international commitments.

“The United States is following events in Zimbabwe closely, including the troubling moves on March 17 to strip Movement for Democratic Change Alliance (MDC Alliance) Vice President Tendai Biti and other MDC Alliance members of their elected seats in parliament.

“Since March 2020, parliamentary maneuvers supported by the Zimbabwean government have led to the ouster of 39 MDC Alliance MPs and 81 local elected officials. These actions subvert the will of voters, further undermine democracy, and deny millions of Zimbabwean citizens their chosen representation.”

The United States said it will continue monitoring efforts by the government to “dismantle the MDC Alliance through the arrest and detention of its leaders and diversion of its assets.

“We also note the government’s selective enforcement of COVID-19 regulations to indefinitely postpone by-elections and prohibit MDC Alliance gatherings, while permitting internal elections and gatherings for the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF) party and its allies to go forward.”

In 2003, the United States and its allies imposed targeted sanctions on Zanu PF officials over alleged human rights violations and election rigging.

But Zanu PF claims that the West imposed the sanctions following the implementation of Zimbabwe’s land reform program, which resulted in an estimated 4,000 white commercial farmers losing their farms to local people.