Magistrate to determine jurisdiction over editor’s case

Magistrate to determine jurisdiction over editor's case 
23 October 2008
Harare magistrate Morgan Nemadire on 22 October 2008 heard defence submissions on the need to refer to a higher court the matter in which The Standard newspaper and its editor Davison Maruziva are being jointly charged with the leader of the MDC-M Professor Arthur Mutambara for contravening the Criminal Law (Reform and Codification) Act and contempt of court.

Beatrice Mtetwa who is representing Professor Mutambara argued that the matter should be referred to the Supreme Court because the Magistrates Courts do not have jurisdiction to hear the matter if it is deemed that there was contempt of court by the accused. The privately owned weekly newspaper and the two accused are being charged with publishing falsehoods prejudicial to the state in terms of Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and additionally, contempt of court. The charges arise from an opinion piece written by Professor Mutambara which was published in the Standard’s edition of 20 April 2008. 

Maruziva and The Standard deny the charges arguing that they were merely practicing press freedom when they published the article in question while Professor Mutambara says as leader of an official opposition party he is entitled to exercising his freedom of expression which is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Section 20 (1) of the Constitution.

The magistrate postponed the matter to 12 November 2008 for his ruling on submissions by both the defence and state as to whether the matter should or should not be referred to a superior court.  


The three are being charged under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Section 33 which deals with publishing or communicating a statement prejudicial to the state which arises from an opinion piece that appeared in the weekly’s under the headline: A shameful betrayal of national Independence. The alleged offensive article was written by Professor Arthur Mutambara, leader of the other formation of the Movement for Democratic Change

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