State makes u-turn in Lumumba’s Mugabe insult case

THE National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on Monday 12 June 2017 made a volte-face and refused to withdraw charges of undermining authority of or insulting President Robert Mugabe levelled against opposition political party leader William Gerald Mutumanje Lumumba.

Acie Lumumba

On Wednesday 24 May 2017, the Prosecutor General, represented by Edmore Nyazamba had undertaken before the Constitutional Court to withdraw charges of undermining authority of or insulting President Mugabe in the Harare Magistrates Courts by 12 June 2017.

This came after Lumumba’s lawyers Advocate Zvikomborero Chadambuka instructed by David Hofisi of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) petitioned the Constitutional Court challenging the constitutionality of the charges filed against him arguing that the State was violating his right to freedom of expression in terms of Section 61(1) (a) of the Constitution.

Lumumba, a former ZANU PF youth leader, was arrested on 30 June 2016 and charged with undermining authority of or insulting President in contravention of Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23).

In the Constitutional Court, Nyazamba undertook to withdraw charges in the lower court by 12 June 2017 and as such, the matter was removed from the roll by consent for the reason that it had been withdrawn in light of the State’s commitment.

But in an about turn, Justin Uladi from the NPA on Monday 12 June 2017 chose not to withdraw charges against Lumumba, the 28 year-old leader of VIVA Zimbabwe political party and instead applied to be granted a trial date for Lumumba’s case.

Uladi told Harare Magistrate Nomsa Sabarauta that the NPA as queries regarding Nyazamba’s authority to have undertaken before the Constitutional Court to withdraw charges against Lumumba.

However, Lumumba’s lawyer, Hofisi of ZLHR, counter-applied and told the court that this treachery by the State was indicative of institutional insincerity and lack of due regard for the proper administration of justice.

Hofisi explained that the NPA as represented by Nyazamba had committed one thing at the Constitutional Court but Uladi was now singing a different tune and as such, the NPA was approaching the court with dirty hands.

Hofisi also counter-applied for refusal of further remand for the court to protect its own integrity.

But Vernancia Mtake from the NPA insisted that she had instructions to proceed with the trial of Lumumba.

This left Magistrate Sabarauta with no option but to roll over the matter to Tuesday 13 June 2017 to allow the State to ascertain certain allegations and for Hofisi to try and get the transcript for the 24 May 2017 hearing from the Constitutional Court to confirm the human rights lawyer’s averments.

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