Residents set free for insulting Mnangagwa

TWO Zimbabweans have been set free in court after facing prosecution on charges of undermining authority of or insulting President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

A member of Zimbabwe’s Presidential Guard (L) salutes President Emmerson Mnangagwa (C) during Independence Day celebrations at the State House in Harare, Zimbabwe, 18 April 2021. Zimbabwe marks 41 years of independence with low-key celebrations due to the covid -19 pandemic. (Photo: EPA-EFE/AARON UFUMELI)

Kariba Magistrate Tendai Banda recently acquitted Vincent Chigwedere,
who had been on trial since 2020, when he was arrested and charged
with undermining authority of or insulting President Mnangagwa as
defined in Section 33(2)(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and
Reform) Act.

During trial, prosecutors alleged that Chigwedere, a resident of
Hurungwe in Mashonaland West province, impaired the image of President
Mnangagwa when he unlawfully and intentionally made an obscene and
indecent statement concerning the ZANU PF party leader during a verbal
altercation over a land ownership dispute.

But the 47 year-old Chigwedere, who was represented by Unite Saizi of
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), was recently discharged at
the close of the prosecution case by Magistrate Banda, who ruled that
prosecutors had failed to establish a prima facie case against him.

In Bindura, Magistrate Ruramai Chitumbura also set free Tinotenda
Majuru, a Bindura resident who had been hauled to court on charges of
undermining authority of or insulting President Mnangagwa after he
allegedly snatched beer and a ZANU PF party-branded cap from another
resident at a local beer hall.

The 24 year-old Tinotenda Majuru, who is self-employed as a car washer
at Chiwaridzo Business Centre, was accused of using some derogatory
words in criticising President Mnangagwa and his ruling ZANU PF party
during a squabble with Samson Wazara while drinking beer.

Prosecutors alleged that Wazara, who was the complainant in the
matter, was enjoying a cold pint of beer when Majuru surprisingly
snatched a beer from him. They charged that Wazara allegedly ignored
Majuru’s provocation and then proceeded to buy another pint of beer to
quench his thirsty. As Wazara was enjoying his second pint of beer,
Majuru reportedly pounced again by snatching his ZANU PF party-branded
base-ball cap from his head. It is alleged that Majuru then proceeded
to utter some derogatory words in Shona criticising Wazara, President
Mnangagwa and the ruling ZANU PF party. By so doing, prosecutors
charged that Majuru acted unlawfully.

But Majuru was recently set free by Magistrate Chitumbura after his
lawyer, Ernest Jena of ZLHR, challenged the prosecution of his client
in the absence of a Certificate of Authority to Prosecute issued by
the Prosecutor-General in terms of the law.

Magistrate Chitumbura removed Majuru from remand and directed
prosecutors to proceed by summoning him to court if they intend to
prosecute him and after obtaining the Certificate of Authority to
Prosecute from the Prosecutor-General.

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