Vetoing of Mwonzora and villagers bail order motivated by malice

douglas_mwonzora2Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) unreservedly condemns the malevolent and unjustified actions of prosecutors in the Attorney General (AG)s Office who, on Monday 21 February 2011, vetoed a bail order which had been granted to Nyanga North legislator Hon. Douglas Mwonzora (pictured) and 23 villagers ch

Nyanga Magistrate, Ignatio Mhene had granted bail to Hon. Mwonzora and the villagers in the sum of $50 each after ruling that the State had failed to overpower the assurances given by the applicants in their application for bail.

But State prosecutor, Tirivanhu Mutyasiri on Monday invoked the notorious Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (CPEA) to suspend the bail order which had been granted to Hon. Mwonzora and the villagers. This reactionary but predictable invocation of Section 121 of the CPEA suspends the bail order for seven days pending the filing of an appeal by the State in the High Court.

ZLHR is perturbed by the malicious actions of prosecutors who continue to unnecessarily infringe upon the fundamental right to liberty of accused persons – especially political and human rights detainees – by bringing up Section 121 of the CPEA. This is despite the fact that the constitutionality of Section 121 is being challenged in numerous cases which are yet to be heard by the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe.

Through the abuse of this piece of legislation, which is frequently used to the prejudice of political detainees, prosecutors are clearly usurping the powers of the judiciary who in this case had safeguarded the fundamental right to liberty of Hon. Mwonzora and the villagers, and assaulting the principle of separation of powers and the rule of law.

ZLHR remains concerned about the increased number of cases in which Section 121 of the CPEA has been arbitrarily and unjustifiably invoked, particularly against members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) and other genuine human rights defenders in Zimbabwe.

For example, on 7 February 2011, prosecutor Fletcher Karombe invoked Section 121 of the CPEA to suspend a bail order which had been granted in favour of Penhalonga residents Patrick Chikoti, Faith Mudiwa and Phillip Dowera who were charged with contravening Section 41 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23. After spending a further 7 days in detention, the Penhalonga residents were released because the State failed to even file an appeal.

On 15 February 2011, prosecutor Tapiwa Kasema invoked Section 121 of the CPEA to deny bail which had been granted to Victor Rundare, an Epworth resident by Harare Magistrate Don Ndirowei.

It is worrying that the abuse of Section 121 of the CPEA comes just after the publication of media reports pertaining to the circulation of memos to prosecutors by Florence Ziyambi, the Director of Public Prosecutions in the AGs Office censoring prosecutors from consenting to bail applications without the authority and consent of the AG.

The increase in the extent and frequency of harassment, arrests and persecution of bona-fide political and human rights activists should cease forthwith. The Supreme Court should further urgently set down for consideration the constitutional challenges pertaining to Section 121, as the continued delay is having a negative impact on the fundamental rights and freedoms of numerous legitimate political activists and human rights defenders.

The persecution of Hon. Mwonzora and the villagers is testimony that, despite the guarantees for free political activity enshrined in the Global Political Agreement, there remain some elements within the transitional coalition government who are dead set against the dawn of democracy in Zimbabwe.

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

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