By Professor Matodzi
HARARE, December 15, 2015 – A local clergyman is languishing in prison
after he was arrested and charged with criminal nuisance for staging
an anti-government protest during the just-ended ZANU PF 15th Annual
National People’s Conference in Victoria Falls.
Police on Friday arrested Patrick Phillip Mugadza, a Pastor with The
Remnant Church, and charged him with criminal nuisance in
contravention of Section 46 of the Criminal Law (Codification and
Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.
The police and prosecutors claimed that the 45 year-old Mugadza staged
a demonstration in the resort town protesting against the manner in
which the Zanu PF party leader had presided over the affairs of the
country, during the time when Mugabe’s Zanu PF party held its annual
jamboree, where the former liberation war fighter was endorsed as the
party’s presidential candidate for the 2018 general elections.
Prosecutor Listen Nare claimed in court that Mugadza, who resides in
Kariba in Mashonaland West province, disturbed the movement of some
ZANU PF party supporters who were on their way to attend the ruling
party’s 15th Annual National People’s Conference by waving a banner
with a message denouncing President Mugabe’s leadership of the
southern African country.
Nare claimed that Mugadza committed criminal nuisance by waving a
banner in the resort town, which read “Mr President. The people are
suffering. Proverbs Chapter 21 Verse 13”.
Nare charged that Mugadza acted unlawfully because his actions
disturbed the movement of members of the public.
Mugadza, who first appeared at Victoria Falls Magistrates Court on
Saturday and was briefly freed on summons, returned to court on Monday
and was remanded in custody to Tuesday, where Magistrate Lindiwe
Maphosa is expected to hand down her ruling on his application for
refusal of placement on remand.
In the application challenging his placement on remand, which was
filed by his lawyer Thulani Nkala of Dube and Company Legal
Practitioners, a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the 45
year-old Kariba based Pastor argued that he had not committed any
offence as he just exercised his constitutional right as guaranteed
under Section 59 of the new Constitution which provides for “freedom
to demonstrate and petition”.
“We are arguing that a demonstration can’t be a nuisance because he
(Mugadza) was exercising his fundamental rights,” said Nkala.
Mugadza is the latest Zimbabwean to fall victim to the country’s tough
security laws which outlaw protests targeted at Mugabe and his ZANU PF
government. Thousands of Zimbabweans among them trade unionists,
students, political and human rights activists including militant
leaders of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise and their members have been
arrested and prosecuted in recent years for allegedly violating a
litany of laws which criminalises demonstrations including the Public
Order and Security Act and the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform)
Mugabe in power since 1980 accuses the rights activists of staging
protests in a bid to dislodge his government from power. However, the
activists deny the allegations and blame the Zanu PF strongman for
presiding over an establishment which commits human rights excesses
and which has ruined the once prosperous southern African country.