HARARE – If you’re thinking of forwarding a joke about Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, just don’t.
A Zimbabwean man is complaining all he did was click “Forward” on a joke about the long-time leader, who turns 92 early next year.
However, the neighbours to whom 38-year-old Titus Maposa sent the text message, sent it to the police and he was arrested, according to a report in Friday’s Manica Post newspaper.
The offending joke was a message falsely attributed to Ecocash, Zimbabwe’s mobile money transfer scheme, which said the president had deposited $1 500 (R20 745) into their account.
The newspaper said the message read: “Ecocash Transfer Confirmation: 1,500 US from Robert Gabriel Mugabe. Thank you for supporting ZANU-PF.”
The text was sent on July 19, but was only now before the courts.
Maposa was being charged under a section of Zimbabwe’s Postal and Telecommunications Act prohibiting the sending of messages the sender “knows to be false.”
The report said Maposa insisted he did not mean to make his neighbours “anxious or nervous”.
“I was intending to share a social media joke,” he said.
Although Maposa was not being prosecuted under Zimbabwe’s infamous anti-insult laws, it remains a crime to insult Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980. Arrests are frequently reported under these laws, often for comments made on social media sites.
Nduna Matshazi, a councillor for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in southern Zimbabwe, was arrested earlier this month for a message he sent on WhatsApp about Mugabe, according to the state-owned Chronicle.