By Professor Matodzi
Bindura, October 8, 2015 – An opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporter has been arrested for taunting President Robert Mugabe over the recent embarrassing gaffe during which he read a wrong speech.
Last month, Mugabe hit global media headlines after he delivered a wrong speech during the official opening of the Third Session of the Eighth Parliament. The nonagenarian leader delivered the speech from the beginning to the end without realising that it was similar with the one which he had read out in August as a State of the Nation Address in Parliament.
Barely a month after the colossal howler, James Mwaya, a 28 year-old supporter of former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party has had to endure a two-day detention in police cells after being arrested and charged for contravening Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 for allegedly insulting or undermining the authority of the President.
Police officers who arrested Mwaya claimed that the Bindura resident uttered some unpalatable remarks over Mugabe’s embarrassing blunder when he told a Zanu(PF)arty Councilllor for Ward 11 only identified as Masango during a verbal altercation over the blockade of a road that; “Mugabe akura hachazvikwanisa. Achembera, ndosaka akaverenga wrong speech” which the police officers loosely translated to mean that “Mugabe is old, he can no longer stand. That is why he read a wrong speech”.
It is alleged that during the verbal altercation Masango accused the 28 year-old man and his MDC-T party colleagues of having placed some stones on a part of a road located close to Mwaya’s residence and this had distracted the free flow of vehicles and pedestrians.
But Mwaya denied the accusation and argued that the blockade had been executed in his absence. Masango also accused Mwaya of influencing some youths in the high-density suburb of engaging in opposition party politics in a bid to disrupt some ZANU PF party development initiatives in the area, a charge which he denied during the recording of a warned and cautioned statement by police officers.
Following his arrest, Mwaya had to endure two nights in police cells first at Chiwaridzo Police Station and later on at Bindura CID Law and Order Section, where he was subjected to a lengthy interrogation over his political affiliation and other issues which were extremely personal and confidential.
Mwaya was only brought to Bindura Magistrates Court on 25 September following the intervention of his lawyer Ernst Jena of Jena and Associates Legal Practitioners, who is a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), where he was released without formally appearing in court after State prosecutors admitted that they had not first sought authority to prosecute the matter from Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana as dictated by the law.
The howler by Mugabe was the second in one year after he fell down as he negotiated his way on some steps from a podium after delivering a speech to his ZANU PF party supporters at the Harare International Airport upon his return from Ethiopia.
After the embarrassing fall, which was captured on camera, some local photographers were forced to delete their pictures by the nonagenarian leader’s security personnel.
In December last year, Mugabe came close to solving the mystery of the 2008 presidential election contest which saw the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) withholding results for over a month after he disclosed that Tsvangirai had got 73 percent of the presidential vote. However, ZEC in 2008 announced that Tsvangirai had garnered 47 percent while Mugabe had secured 43 percent of the vote forcing the two long-time rivals to square up in a re-run which the MDC-T leader boycotted while the ZANU PF leader was declared the winner.
According to ZLHR, more than 100 people have being arrested, prosecuted and persecuted after falling foul of the insult laws and the bulk of the victims are residents and villagers residing in Mashonaland Central province.