Govt gets tough on use of Zim flag

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s paranoid government, reeling from swelling public anger over its policies, has warned it will imprison ‘‘abusers’’ of the national flag, as it bids to tighten screws on dissenters.

In a strongly-worded statement yesterday, the Justice ministry warned that it will invoke the relevant clauses that will see ‘‘abusers’’ of the flag being imprisoned.

“The ministry of Justice as the administrative authority in charge of the national flag is concerned with the increasing incidences whereby members of the public have been using the national flag in a manner that is prohibited by the Constitution and the relevant Act of Parliament regulations,” said Virginia Mabiza, permanent secretary in the Justice ministry.

“The sale and use of the national flag is governed by the Flag of Zimbabwe Act and the regulations made in terms of the Act, namely, the Flag of Zimbabwe (use and application of the Flag) regulations, 1987, Statutory Instrument 194 of 1987.

“The Act makes it a criminal offence for any person to burn, mutilate or otherwise insult the national flag or any reproduction thereof, in circumstances which are calculated or likely to show disrespect for the national flag or to bring the national flag into disrepute.”

Offenders risk having to serve a two-year jail term or being fined $200 under the laws governing the use of the flag.

The Zimbabwe flag has become prominent both at home and internationally, following a campaign by exiled clergyman Evan Mawarire, who used it as a rallying tool in a social media drive dubbed #ThisFlag.

Mawarire popularised the flag by draping it around his body and it became the embodiment of a defiant spirit among Zimbabweans protesting against the country’s economic rot.

While there have been very few incidents of abuse of the flag, many Zimbabweans today see the national flag as a symbol of unity against Mugabe and his government.

However, Mabiza said it was a criminal offence to sell or manufacture the flag without the ministry’s permission.

“Members of the public who engage in any action or activity which involves the sale or manufacture or use in contravention of the law are therefore warned that they are liable to prosecution, and are liable to be imprisoned if they are found guilty by a court of law,” said Mabiza.

Hundreds of vendors who were recording ‘‘roaring’’ business are likely to be the worst affected group by government’s decision.

Street vendors were recording brisk business on international match days involving national teams such as cricket, football and rugby.

The wave of protests and the launch of #ThisFlag campaign further boosted their business.

Comments (6)

Kkkkkkk.zvavakuma flag,,Tichasungirwa kupfeka nduwe manjemanje

matsotsi - 21 September 2016

Zanu pf government yapererwa manje. They accused people of being unpatriotic and now its a crime to be patriotic. Zanu pf gvt should just die in pieces.

X-MAN IV - 21 September 2016

naybe am not understanding clearly, the section quoted on the story doesnt hev convincing grounds to ban the flag. my national flag which I'm banned, so nekubhora kwese muchaarambidzwaka

marcus - 22 September 2016

This is another shocker! The morbid warped mentality of a beleaguered zanu pf government. Virginia Mabiza and the ministry of justice are completely offside over the interpretation of that part of the Constitution. Everyone demonstrating have shown appreciation and value of the Zimbabwean flag - the whole essence of the #TheFlag is honoring what the flag stands for. Zimbabweans across social strata have been united by what the flag represents - our pride to be called Zimbabweans - something zanu pf would struggle to identify with. No where have Zimbabweans been seen "burning, mutilating (sic!) insulting or disrespecting the flag" in these current protests. Instead the zanu pf government, mugabe etc. have disrespecting the flag by ignoring the plight of the suffering, improverished masses, encouraged rampant corruption / greed and a partisan self entitlement mentality among zanu pf leaders, their followers and families, perpetrated acts of violence (army, CIO, police, zanu pf youth brutality) on the opposition and ordinary zimbabweans, the plight of tortured and economic refugees to the diaspora (over 4 million displaced Zimbabweans). We will hold the flag, the heroes who sacrificed their lives for us to get that flag, these we will hold dear, will teach our children the values enshrined in the flag. Our God given right for justice, truth, freedom, love, respect, honor, intergrity, national pride and stewardship of our God given resources are values we will always hold high. Simudza mureza weZimbabwe! That spirit zanu pf cannot rig - the zanu pf titanic and its captain are going down. You cannot stop what God has started. You can wound us, maim us, jail us, kill us but real change has come and you cannot stop it! The writing is on the wall and your days are numbered! We will celebrate with those flags soon, splashing the nation with them - this flag is our symbol of protest to zanu pf's evil and wicked rule.

Daniel5 - 22 September 2016

Kkkkkkkk, ZANU PF is being interrogated for failing to stand up for the values of the Zimbabwean Flag. They are afraid of the people

Hwezha - 22 September 2016

Can Virginia Mabiza recall this dialogue five years ago in parliament (Febraury 2011)? The Magwegwe MDC MP, Felix Mafa, had asked the then Minister of Justice and Legal Affiars Patrick Chinamasa - "What are the legal implications of selling national flags that are being sold everywhere in the roads?" "What are the implications of selling national emblems and who benefits from the proceeds?" Mafa asked. Chinamasa's response was" Thank you hon. member for your question. the National Flag Act comes under the administration of my ministry, so I am in a position to clarify the position. ANY COMPANY CAN MAUNUFACTURE THE NATIONAL FLAG, WHAT IS NOT PERMITTED IS TO IMPRINT ON IT ANYTHING THAT SHOULD NOT B ON THE NATIONAL FLAG. THEREFORE, AS LONG AS IT IS REPRODUCED FAITHFULLY, IN TERMS OF WHAT THE ACT PROVIDES, THERE IS NO LEGAL IMPLICATION". Mafa asked further: "My main question was the proceeds of the sales of national emblems?" to which Chinamasa replied: "THE PROCEEDS GO TO THE ENTREPRENEUR". What has changed?

SimudzaMureza! - 22 September 2016

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