President Robert Mugabe's ruling party pushed through changes to Zimbabwe's constitution on Tuesday which critics say further entrenches his rule.
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party used its two-thirds parliamentary majority to approve changes that will allow the government to nationalise white-owned farms, impose travel bans on "traitors" and re-introduce a second legislative chamber (Senate) that critics say will be packed with Mugabe's allies.
ZANU-PF argues the changes will enable the government to conclude its controversial land reform program to redistribute land from white farmers to the black majority, while a Senate will improve the quality of legislation.
"Today is a happy moment," Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said on state radio after the vote. "This gives us an opportunity as Zimbabweans to be the true owners of the land and to be truly independent," reports Reuters.
According to Washington Post, opposition leaders predicted that Mugabe, who is expected to swiftly sign the changes into law, would soon revoke their passports, making it more difficult for them to lobby for international pressure against Mugabe's autocratic leadership.
"We are the immediate targets," said Paul Themba Nyathi, spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, speaking by phone from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city. "They are going to take away our passports. I'm sure of that."
Nyathi and others, however, said the vote was mainly an act of defiance by Mugabe's government, which has increasingly been isolated by the United Nations and most of the developed world. In July, the United Nations issued a sharply worded report condemning Mugabe's Operation Murambatsvina, or "Drive Out the Rubbish," a demolition campaign that left 700,000 people homeless or without jobs.
"This is them thumbing their nose at the rest of the world," Nyathi said of Tuesday's vote in parliament.