In January 2023, the Zimbabwean government published the Health Services Amendment Act and Criminal Law Amendment Bill that would stifle the rights of working people to freedom of expression and association.
The Health Services Amendment Act comprises a number of repressive strictures, including: those that restrict any collective job action, lawful or unlawful, from continuing for an uninterrupted period of 72 hours or more in any given 14-day period; that demand notice of any collective job action in writing 48 hours before it starts; and threaten that any individual who is a member of the governing body of any trade union that incites or organises any collective job action in the health service could be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine or to imprisonment of up to six months or to both.
The Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Amendment Bill provides for new crimes and heavy sentencing, including a crime for “wilfully damaging the sovereignty and national interest of Zimbabwe”; making it an offence for any Zimbabwean to seek support from a foreign country in a way that the government decides undermines the sovereignty, dignity, and independence of the country; and making it an offence to speak out against government policies, with penalties depending on the nature of the meeting held and the outcome of that meeting. The penalties for these new offences vary from a fine, to life imprisonment or a death sentence.
Both texts are currently before Parliament.