AS the national flag gets more and more popular with protesters, a local NGO has confirmed that it is a criminal offence to manufacture or import the Zimbabwe flag without prior permission of the secretary for justice, legal and parliamentary affairs, and one can be jailed for one year or fined $300.
Veritas, a local organisation which provides information on the work of Parliament and the laws of Zimbabwe, did the research after local government minister and Zanu PF’s political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, threatened protectors with arrest over the national flag.
“You see some protesting white women donning our national flag as dresses. They are undermining our authority, and we will not tolerate that,” said Kasukuwere while addressing Salvation Army members in Mt Darwin recently.
This was after thousands of Zimbabweans locally and abroad embraced the Zimbabwe flag as part of their regalia in support of the #ThisFlag social movement led by Pastor Evan Mawarire.
“In addition to section 4 of the Constitution, there are two such laws: the Flag of Zimbabwe Act and the Flag of Zimbabwe (General) Regulations [SI 194/1987] made by the President under the Act,” Veritas said.
“The Act makes it a criminal offence for anyone to burn, mutilate or otherwise insult the Flag (or a reproduction or likeness of it) in circumstances which are calculated or likely to show disrespect for the Flag or bring it into disrepute. The maximum penalty on conviction is a fine not exceeding level 6 ($300) or imprisonment for one year or both,” the organisation said.
Veritas said the regulations make it a criminal offence to import or manufacture the flag, or apply the flag, reproduction or likeness of it, use the flag on any matter or thing, for the purposes of sale, without the prior permission of the secretary for justice, legal and parliamentary affairs.
“For permission to be granted, the secretary (of justice) must be satisfied that the activity in question will not bring the flag into disrepute, will not result in its excessive exploitation for commercial purposes and will not generally be contrary to the public interest”.
Vendors have, in recent months, been making brisk business selling the flags by traffic lights and during public gatherings, with prices ranging from $1 to $5 depending on the size of the flag.
Members of South Africa based radical groups have previously burned the Zimbabwean flag in protest against minority rights violations.