The just must disobey unjust laws

Prominent Zimbabwean activists who have defied POSA, AIPPA and other Zanu (PF) laws are not only morally justified but are heroes and heroines who deserve a place at the national shrine in a new Zimbabwe.
If the government is evil - as in Zimbabwe - and has abdicated its d

uty to promote justice, while plundering and abusing human rights, then our duty to comply should be absolved.
To always obey the law is not morally justified. Thoreau took this view in regard to the fugitive-slave law, a law that required citizens to turn in runaway slaves. Isn’t this law one would feel morally justified in disobeying?
We are enmeshed in the political realm but we can still make choices .We must not think that being good citizens requires us to blindly obey the law, even when the law is wrong or sacrifices our freedoms and human rights.
We should reject the idea that a rogue Zanu (PF) government can coerce us into doing what we know is wrong – including affording Mugabe two more years of plunder through his amending the law.
Fear of jail cells will often lead us to obey unjust laws that seek to perpetuate Mugabe’s dictatorship. People are entitled to engage in various forms of civil disobedience and should exercise their duty to defy any legal proposals that seek to take Mugabe beyond 2008.
If Mugabe is asking us to choose between a peaceful life in chains and death, we should be ready to answer in the words of Patrick Henry “…give me liberty, or give me death”. Choosing to give up liberty is not only foolish but immoral.
Disobeying draconian laws does not create anarchists but, rather, critical citizens. The kind of state in power should determine whether it deserves loyalty.
I agree with Martin Luther King jnr (in his letter from Birmingham City Jail, written in April 1963) when he says that, if a law is imposed by a tyrannical government and requires actions that are unjust, then we have moral responsibility to disobey such a law.
Zimbabweans must be able to feel that laws are not burdensome to some and beneficial to others, and that state law is just. Imagine how easy it is for state reporters to be registered under AIPPA, compared to critical citizens. Ask Pedzisai Ruhanya.
Imagine how Zanu (PF) circumvents POSA when holding its rallies and how the MDC toils for the same rights.
Note how the ruling-party thugs are accorded the right to march in defence of the gravy train but how it remains a mirage for critical citizens to do the same. Ask Dr Lovemore Madhuku.
If citizens are not accorded an equal opportunity to participate in the process that generates the laws, then such law should be defined as unjust and should be defied. To allow a group of controversially-elected Zanu (PF) MPs and non-constituency based members, operating on the caprices of patronage, to amend the law to perpetuate their evil, sweeps away all the moral remnants of our law. Such horrendous machinations should be defied in totality.
At this juncture of the struggle – with the burden of POSA, AIPPA and proposals to amend the constitution to suit Mugabe’s wish to be life President – signalled in October 1980 when he signed a secret deal with Kim 11 Sung – it is important to embrace the words of Martin Luther King jnr:
“There are just laws and there are unjust laws. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

Post published in: Opinions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *