Mohadi introduces Terrorism Bill


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Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi introduced the Suppression of Foreign and International Terrorism Bill on 24 March 2006 which would allow the minister to designate terrorist groups and would impose stricter sentences for terrorists and their facilitators.

The bill sought to update Zimbabwe’s existing counterterrorism framework, originally constructed by the colonial government in 1963.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 06HARARE434, NEW LEGISLATION WOULD TIGHTEN GOZ’S GRIP

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

06HARARE434

2006-04-13 14:30

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO2419

RR RUEHMR

DE RUEHSB #0434/01 1031430

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 131430Z APR 06

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9870

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1188

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1022

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1191

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0027

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0452

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 0811

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1245

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3601

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1016

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 1649

RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RUFGNOA/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1403

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 000434

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

S/CT FOR D. ZIMOV

SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/12/2015

TAGS: PTER ASEC PINR EAGR TBIO PGOV ECPS PHUM PREL

ZI

SUBJECT: NEW LEGISLATION WOULD TIGHTEN GOZ’S GRIP

 

REF: A. REF A: HARARE 349

B. REF B: HARARE 319

C. REF C: HARARE 308

D. REF D: 2005 HARARE 395

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) The GOZ in recent weeks has put forward several bills

to Parliament, many of which would bolster the state’s

security apparatus. The Suppression of Foreign and

International Terrorism Bill would update Zimbabwe’s

counterterrorism laws, and the Interception of Communications

Bill would allow the GOZ to monitor and intercept phone

calls, emails and postal communication, and create a new

agency to oversee such signals intelligence. Civil

libertarians caution that both bills could be used against

political opponents. Private communication firms, meanwhile,

have expressed concern that the Interception of Communication

Bill would foist on them an oppressive financial burden,

which might cause several to close. Rounding out the list of

potential oppressive legislation, the GOZ has discussed

restrictions on the distribution of foreign media in

Zimbabwe, has proposed a new Human Rights Commission that

would undercut legitimate groups, and continues to wield the

threat of resubmitting a bill to regulate the activities of

NGOs. In other legislative business, the lower house

recently passed a bill to regulate the use of biotechnology

in Zimbabwe, and we have heard indications that the more

contentious parts of the Education Bill may be revised soon.

End Summary.

 

———————————

Spate of Bills Awaiting Lawmakers

———————————

 

2. (C) John Makamure, the director of USAID’s parliamentary

support project implemented by the State University of New

York (SUNY), told poloff on April 4 that President Mugabe’s

criticism of “underperforming” ministers earlier in the year

had generated the recent spate of legislation as government

officials attempt to earn their keep. A total of six bills

await introduction to Parliament. Makamure suggested that

narrow political self-interest, rather than national need,

was what was driving the otherwise thin legislative agenda

these days.

 

————————-

New Security Legislation(

————————-

 

3. (C) Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi on March 24

introduced the Suppression of Foreign and International

Terrorism Bill (emailed to AF/S and S/CT), which would update

Zimbabwe’s existing counterterrorism (CT) framework,

originally constructed by the colonial government in 1963.

The Bill would allow the Home Affairs Minister to designate

terrorist groups and would impose stricter sentences for

terrorists and their facilitators. (N.B. We understand that

S/CT is researching this Bill to determine if it follows

international best practices.)

 

4. (C) Meanwhile, the Minister of Transport and

Communication Chris Mushowe has circulated ) but not yet

introduced to Parliament – the Interception of Communication

Bill (emailed to AF/S), which would grant the GOZ authority

 

HARARE 00000434 002 OF 004

 

 

to monitor and intercept domestic phone calls, emails and

postal communications. The Bill seeks to address a Supreme

Court decision in March 2004 that declared an earlier

monitoring and interception law to be unconstitutional. The

draft Bill would create a signals intelligence agency, the

Monitoring of Interception of Communications Center (MICC),

which would conduct an intercept once the Minister had issued

a warrant. The Bill would also require that communication

service providers purchase, install, and maintain the

monitoring equipment. SUNY staff commented that this Bill

was poorly written ) most likely by a junior drafter in the

Attorney’s General’s office – and would almost certainly be

revised before it was submitted to Parliament. SUNY added

that unlike the CT Bill there appeared to be no major push

behind this bill and that former intelligence officer

Mushowe’s influence appeared to be waning.

 

———————————————

(Draws Civil Society, Private Industry’s Fire

———————————————

 

5. (C) Civil libertarians, however, have criticized both

pieces of legislation, saying that their combined impact will

lead to the serious erosion the country’s already dwindling

democratic space. Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) President

Joseph James told poloff on March 31 that the bills

concentrated too much authority in an executive that would

likely use the powers to further harass the opposition. The

definition of a terrorist organization in the CT Bill, for

instance, was extremely vague, according to James, and

included any group “formed with a view to(usurping the

functions of a government.” (N.B. The definition of

terrorism is also circular, potentially leading to varying

interpretations.) Indeed, both independent and

state-controlled media have reported that the GOZ could have

used the CT legislation against MDC supporters arrested in

connection with the since debunked arms cache “discovery” in

early March (ref B).

 

6. (C) Terming the Interception of Communication Bill

“horrific” and “fascist,” James declared that it was also

likely unconstitutional. The LSZ was therefore planning to

mount a lobbying campaign in coordination with the Zimbabwe

Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) against its passage. If the

bill became law in its current form, James said that the LSZ

would challenge it in court, noting the precedent set by the

Supreme Court’s ruling against the earlier monitoring and

intercept law.

 

7. (C) Nikki Lear, chief operating officer of Zimbabwe’s

largest internet service provider MWEB, told poloff on April

10 that the Interception of Communication Bill’s requirement

that communication providers purchase and install the

monitoring equipment would present a huge financial problem

for the companies. MWEB’s South Africa branch was looking to

install the equipment at a price tag of 5-7 million Rand,

which Lear said was too much for the company’s Zimbabwean

office to afford, much less the country’s 23 other smaller

internet providers. The Zimbabwe Internet Service Providers

Association (ZISPA) would be devising a strategy soon,

looking at the South African industry’s successful lobbying

efforts against similar legislation there. However, if the

legislation passed into law without revision, Lear said that

MWEB would have no choice but to pull out of Zimbabwe.

 

—————————————

Rounding Out The Oppressive Legislation

—————————————

 

 

HARARE 00000434 003 OF 004

 

 

8. (C) Adding to the list of repressive legislation, local

media have reported that the GOZ aims to strengthen the

Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA),

to introduce a Human Rights Commission that could undermine

legitimate organizations, and to resubmit the controversial

NGO Bill (ref D). The state-controlled Herald in late March

reported that the GOZ planned to amend AIPPA to expand its

writ over the distribution of foreign media in Zimbabwe. MDC

MP and pro-Senate faction shadow communication minister

Abednico Bhebhe told poloff on March 29 that this amendment

was targeted against local stringers for foreign media

services. State-controlled media also reported that the

Cabinet had approved a constitutional amendment to establish

the Human Rights Commission, a move termed “deceptive” by

ZLHR in a press release because it would not address the

fundamental problem of Zimbabwean human rights ) the

widespread manipulation of executive powers. Meanwhile, an

online news source in early March quoted Justice Minister

Partick Chinamasa as saying that the GOZ was “polishing up”

the NGO Bill, which he expected to become law by the end of

the year. Shortly afterward, the state-controlled Chronicle

featured a warning from ZANU-PF Chairman John Nkomo that NGOs

should not dabble in politics. Despite this rhetoric,

Makamure commented that he saw no indications that the return

of the NGO Bill was imminent.

 

———————

Biotech Bill in Train

———————

 

9. (U) In other legislative developments, the House of

Assembly on April 4 passed the National Biotechnology

Authority Bill, which now goes to the upper house. This Bill

could create the Authority to oversee the import, research,

and use of all biotechnology processes and products. The

Bill’s stated aim is to ensure that the development of

biotech in Zimbabwe does not cause adverse effects on public

health or the environment. The Bill would also create a

fund, with money generated from a new levy, to promote the

marketing and production of biotech research and products.

 

————————————-

Education Bill Still Awaits Signature

————————————-

 

10. (C) Meanwhile, the only bill passed by Parliament this

year, the Education Bill (ref C), has yet to be signed into

law. Jameson Timba, the chairman of the Association of Trust

Schools, told poloff on March 18 that he met with Mugabe

earlier that week and secured the leader’s promise to revise

a last-minute amendment to the Bill that governed fees that

boarding schools could charge. Timba said that Mugabe

appeared unaware of the amendment but ultimately agreed with

Timba that the Education Bill as written would force many

religious schools to close. Notwithstanding Mugabe’s

apparent promise, we have yet to see indications that the

Bill will be sent back to Parliament for revision.

 

————————————-

Thin Parliamentary Business Otherwise

————————————-

 

11. (SBU) Despite widespread media speculation, the

government has not submitted other high-profile legislation,

such as a rumored constitutional amendment to harmonize the

presidential and legislative elections. The GOZ has also

backed down from the Mining Bill in the wake of widespread

condemnation (ref A). Most recently Mugabe was quoted in the

state-controlled Herald on April 1 saying that the

 

HARARE 00000434 004 OF 004

 

 

indigenization ratio ) announced at 51 percent by the Mining

Minister Amos Midzi – was still “at a very early stage of

discussion.” The government has also yet to put forward the

Domestic Violence Bill, although responding to pressure from

women’s rights groups Chinamasa has publicly pledged to

submit the legislation by year’s end.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

12. (C) Even as a beleaguered GOZ proposes “bridge-building”

with the West and talks about the need to reduce

confrontation, it is simultaneously revealing its true

authoritarian colors in this proposed legislation.

DELL

 

(5 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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