By Professor Mutodzi
Harare, July 31, 2016 – EMBATTLED Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) spokesperson Douglas Mahiya’s bail hearing was on Saturday further deferred to Monday during a court session which was also graced by top South African attorney, George Bizos.
Mahiya is being charged with undermining authority of or insulting President Robert Mugabe in contravention of Section 33 (2) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.
Police claimed that Mahiya produced, in connivance with other high ranking national, provincial and district executive members of ZNLWVA, a document captioned “War Veterans Communiqué on the state of Zimbabwe’s economy, the Zanu PF party leadership and the way forward for the people of Zimbabwe,” between 07 April 2016 and 21 July 2016.
The document, police charged, has contents that insult, undermine the authority of the president or are likely to engender feelings of hatred, contempt, or ridicule of the president whether in his person or in respect of the president’s office.
If found guilty, Mahiya will serve one year in jail for the offence.
Magistrate Vakai Chikwekwe on Friday heard an application filed by Mahiya’s lawyers Harrison Nkomo and Andrew Makoni of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who sought to have the former freedom fighter set free after raising concerns that prosecutors had not first secured authority to prosecute their client from the Prosecutor-General as was dictated by the country’s statutes.
Nkomo argued that Mahiya was not properly before the court and hence should be set free.
However, Magistrate Chikwekwe rolled the hearing of the challenge of the defective certificate to prosecute to Saturday.
After the Saturday hearing, the matter was further pushed to Monday.
Veterans of the country’s liberation war recently broke ranks with Mugabe, the country’s long time ruler after criticising him for authority and presiding over the collapse of the troubled southern African country.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights chairperson Beatrice Mtetwa said they invited Bizos to Mahiya’s trial just to allow him an opportunity to observe how the justice delivery system was operating in Zimbabwe.
Mtetwa said Bizos was part of a team of legal experts who were attending a board meeting for a regional lawyers group based in South Africa.
Bizos represented Mandela and his co-accused Govan Mbeki and Walter Sisulu.