Abuse of national flag criminal offence — Govt
Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
Government has warned members of the public that they risk being prosecuted for abusing the national flag.
The national flag is a symbolic representation of nationalism, strength and unity of any given country, which should be treated with so much respect.
However, this has not been the case in the country of late as members of the public have been treating the national flag with contempt.
Political activists led by Evan Mawarire, are using the flag to whip up political emotions against the constitutionally elected Government.
In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs permanent secretary Mrs Virginia Mabhiza, said people who participated in any action or activity involving the national flag or to bring the national flag into disrepute were warned that they were liable to prosecution.
“The penalty for the offence is a fine not exceeding $200 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or both such fine and imprisonment,” said Mrs Mabhiza.
“Members of the public who engage in any action or activity, which involves the manufacture, sale or use of the national flag in contravention of the law are therefore warned that they are liable to prosecution and are liable to imprisonment if they are found guilty by a court of law.”
Mrs Mabhiza said in terms of the flag of Zimbabwe (Use and Application of Flag) Regulations, it was a criminal offence for any person who did not have prior permission of the secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs-
to import or manufacture the flag for purposes of sale;
apply the flag to or use the flag on any matter or thing for purposes of sale; and
sell the flag or anything to which the flag has been applied or on which the flag has been used, or use it on any matter or thing for purposes of sale or sell the flag or anything to which the flag has been applied or on which it has been used.
The warning comes against the backdrop of increasing incidences where people are using the national flag in a manner prohibited by the Constitution and the relevant Act of Parliament regulations.
Mrs Mabhiza said the manufacture, sale and use of the national flag was governed by the Flag of Zimbabwe Act(Chapter10:10) and regulations made in terms of the Act, namely, the Flag of Zimbabwe (Use and Application of Flag) Regulations, 1987, Statutory Instrument 194 of 1987.
The Act, she said, made it a criminal offence for any person to burn, mutilate, or otherwise insult the national flag or any reproduction thereof, in circumstances, which were calculated or likely to show disrespect for the national flag or to bring it into disrepute.
“These provisions cover any form of abuse to which the national flag may be subjected,” said Mrs Mabhiza.