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New legislation targets Britons, opposition and broadcasters

New legislation published in Zimbabwe on Monday would undermine the right of Britons to reside in the country, bar foreign financial support for political parties, and introduce stiff new broadcasting regulations, news agencies reported. The Citizenship Amendment Bill forces people who simultaneously hold Zimbabwe and British citizenship to choose between staying in the country after relinquishing their British nationality, or renouncing Zimbabwe citizenship and applying for permanent residence. The British High Commission had previously estimated that up to 26,000 Britons live in Zimbabwe, but said it had no idea of how many simultaneously held Zimbabwe passports, DPA reported. Also gazetted on Monday was the Political Parties (Finance) Bill which means to make it illegal for any member of a political party to receive foreign funding. “This is so sweeping as to make it nonsensical,” Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) secretary-general Welshman Ncube commented. “If a friend overseas wants to give me a watch for Christmas, it is illegal. It typifies the complete insanity pervading this government.” Under Zimbabwe’s tough new broadcasting law published on Monday the government is to license only one radio and one television service, aside from the existing services of the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), the official ZIANA news agency said. Pirate broadcasters face up to two years’ imprisonment or a US $90,000 fine. Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court in September broke the government monopoly on the airwaves, and one week later the nation’s first private radio station began broadcasting in Harare. But the government quickly declared Capital Radio’s broadcasts illegal, and police seized all the station’s equipment, despite a High Court order barring them from doing so. The new law is a response to the Supreme Court ruling.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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