Zimbabwe?s government has published a proposed new law called The Suppression of Foreign and International Terrorism Bill. It would empower courts to impose life imprisonment on people convicted of plotting to overthrow the government. The bill is expected to sail through Parliament, where President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party enjoys a comfortable majority. Mr. Mugabe accuses the opposition of working with western countries to try to oust him from power -- mainly over his seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to poor blacks.
Professor John Makumbe teaches political science at the University of Zimbabwe. In an interview with English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje, Makumbe says the new bill ?is another demonstration of demagoguery and the regime?s desperation to stay in power.? He says it also shows that ?the government is panicking over the badly deteriorating economic situation, and suspects that opposition political parties may link up with external forces and devise a strategy of overthrowing the Mugabe regime.?
Makumbe says Zimbabwean courts enjoy ?very limited independence because most of the judges are appointees of the regime.? He says, ?The opposition largely depends on the support of the people of Zimbabwe, and passage of the new bill will make the opposition even more determined to push its agenda of pushing the regime out through means which are not at all terrorist in nature, but which are civic in nature.?