Authorities revive Mugabe insult cases in fresh clampdown

ZIMBABWEAN authorities have stepped up a crackdown on dissent by summoning an opposition party activist and an employee of the State-run railway company to stand trial on charges of insulting President Robert Mugabe, almost four years after the offence was committed.

Mugabe

Mugabe

Police in Masvingo province recently summoned Naison Mudzuri, an opposition political party supporter, to stand trial on Tuesday 19 January 2016 for allegedly undermining authority of or insulting President Mugabe in contravention of Section 33 (beer) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.

According to State prosecutors, Mudzuri, who was first arrested and charged on 09 September 2013 before he was removed from remand and only to be summoned to stand trial recently, allegedly passed some unpalatable statements against the ZANU PF leader whom he blamed for presiding over the collapse of the once prosperous southern African country.

Prosecutors charged that Mudzuri criticised some ZANU PF party supporters for foolishly sympathising with President Mugabe whom he blamed for failing to uplift citizens’ livelihoods in the past 33 years but was just obsessed with blaming former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for the country’s political and economic ills. Mudzuri, the State claimed, also suggested that the ZANU PF supporters were better off supporting MDC-T party leader Morgan Tsvangirai if their fortunes were to change.

However, Mudzuri’s trial failed to kick off on 19 January 2016 after his lawyer Blessing Nyamaropa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) filed some preliminary objections to the commencement of trial for lack of compliance with Section 34 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23, which requires that Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana should authorise prosecutions of such nature. In Mudzuri’s case, the letter of authority to prosecute was only signed by a chief law officer based in Masvingo and not by the Prosecutor-General. The Magistrate who presided over the matter reserved ruling on Mudzuri’s objection.

In another case, Polite Zambezi, an employee of the State-run National Railways of Zimbabwe in Mwenezi District, in Masvingo province, will on Wednesday 20 January 2016 appear at Mwenezi Magistrates Court after he was summoned to stand trial on charges of undermining authority of or insulting President Mugabe in contravention of Section 33 (beer) of the Criminal law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.

Zambezi was first arrested on 24 November 2012 while aboard a commuter omnibus after he allegedly composed and chanted a song with the lyrics; “Mugabe will be hanged like Sadam”.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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