The Sunday Mail
CLASSIFIED United States of America State Department cables released by WikiLeaks over the last 14 years have shocked the world.
We learnt, from the previously secret documents, the US government’s shocking covert machinations and interference in the affairs of fellow sovereign States.
Apparently, according to the leaks, a prominent Zimbabwean politician requested US military intervention in Zimbabwe to facilitate an illegal change of Government in Harare.
“We asked (Nelson) Chamisa what concrete actions the US and international community could take,” reads one of the leaked documents.
“He responded: military intervention to remove the regime, indictments of Mugabe and other ZANU PF officials in international courts, and sanctioning of the Reserve Bank.”
If it were not for the cables, we probably would have never known that the politician who aspires for the country’s top job wants foreign military intervention to topple the Government illegally.
Calling for the invasion of your own country by a foreign army is a scandalously serious offence in some nations. It is considered as the highest form of criminal disloyalty and is usually heavily sanctioned.
The United States, for example, has long-recognised the diplomatic chaos that comes with private citizens having unauthorised negotiations with foreign governments.
As a result, the Logan Act was enacted in 1799 and it criminalises negotiating with a foreign power against the country.
Part of the law reads: “Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”
The law was put in place in order to protect the national interest against selfish individual pursuits and put an end to diplomatic free-for-all which is harmful to the nation.
Other nations have similar laws which properly designate who can speak on behalf of the country with fellow nations.
Zimbabwe does not have such a law and this has resulted in every Tom, Dick and Harry assuming the locus standi, however, incorrectly, to speak on behalf of the country.
Over the years we have observed as some rebel opposition politicians and so-called human rights defenders publicly and through diplomatic back channels campaign against Zimbabwe, particularly for economic sanctions.
There has been a consistent carousel of Zimbabwean politicians visiting Washington to testify before Congress in the hope of influencing the US’ adverse position on the country.
Each of them shares a common view that they alone speak for the Zimbabwean public and it is their view which should be considered above all others.
As a result sanctions on Zimbabwe and their attendant effects have remained and in some cases been tightened, at the behest of these individuals.
Three years ago a group of local opposition politicians and activists appeared before a US Congressional Committee on Foreign Relations ostensibly to apprise Americans on the situation in Zimbabwe.
“The United States Congress must continue to do what it has done very well in the past,” said Tendai Biti then of the People’s Democratic Party, who was leading the delegation.
It was no surprise that after this dalliance the US soon extended sanctions against Zimbabwe.
Having observed this chicanery go on for years, it was also no surprise that Government last week mooted the idea of introducing a law criminalising campaigning against Zimbabwe.
Cabinet last week adopted recommendations for such a law from the Cabinet Committee on National Peace and Reconciliation.
The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) has long campaigned for such a law.
Two years ago the war veterans called for the enactment of laws that bar anyone calling for sanctions and economic sabotage from contesting elections in the country.
They wanted such offences to be considered under the third schedule of criminal offences.
The Third Schedule includes crimes such as murder and rape among other serious crimes.
“We will call upon the conference to urge Parliament to enact laws that cause an investigation and establishment of facts on people who call for sanctions and economic sabotage,” said ZNLWVA secretary-general Victor Matemadanda.
“Once it is established that it’s true, such people should not be eligible for election to district, council, provincial council, Member of Parliament, Senate and Presidential positions.”
The introduction of such an Act would ensure that no Zimbabwean undermines the national interest working in cahoots with foreign powers.
It is Parliament’s duty to ensure that we have our Zimbabwean equivalent of the Logan Act.
However, legislators should also ensure that the law will not be used as a tool to silence criticism or to prevent the presentation of alternative approaches to foreign policy.
It should ensure the rights of fair criticism and proper oversight on those wielding the Act.