By Professor Matodzi
Masvingo, January 20, 2016 – POLICE in the province have resuscitated and brought for trial, two cases in which the accused allegedly insulted President Robert Mugabe on two different incidents almost four years ago.
Naison Mudzuri, who at the time of his arrest in 2013 was an MDC-T supporter, appeared before a Masvingo magistrate on Tuesday for allegedly undermining the authority of or insulting Mugabe in contravention of Section 33 (b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.
Similarly, Polite Zambezi, an employee of the State-run National Railways of Zimbabwe in Masvingo’s Mwenezi district, was on Wednesday, January 20 also set to answer similar charges in Mwenezi.
According to State prosecutors, Mudzuri, who was first arrested and charged in September 2013 before being freed following several false starts to his trial, allegedly passed some unpalatable statements against Mugabe whom he blamed for presiding over the country’s economic collapse.
The state claimed that Mudzuri criticised some Zanu PF party supporters for “foolishly” sympathising with the soon to be 92 year-old leader, whom he blamed for failing to improve the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans since independence in 1980.
Mudzuri, the state charged, had attacked Mugabe for being preoccupied with blaming former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for the country’s political and economic ills.
Mudzuri, it is further alleged, also suggested that the Zanu PF supporters were better off supporting Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC-T if their fortunes were to change for better.
His trial however failed to take off on Tuesday after his lawyer Blessing Nyamaropa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) filed some preliminary objections to the commencement of trial for lack of compliance with Section 34 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.
The cited law says the Prosecutor-General of the day should first authorise prosecutions of such nature.
In Mudzuri’s case, the letter of authority to prosecute was only signed by a chief law officer based in Masvingo and not by Johannes Tomana.
The presiding magistrate reserved ruling on Mudzuri’s objection.
Zambezi, on his part, was first arrested November 24, 2012 while aboard a commuter omnibus after he allegedly composed and chanted a song with the lyrics; “Mugabe will be hanged like Saddam (Hussein)”. Hussein was Iraq leader who was executed December 2006 for crimes against humanity.
Observers say the arrest of the two underscores the current government’s rising crackdown on dissent and free expression.
Apart from using arrests and prosecutions, the Harare administration has also employed other brutal methods to try to silence peaceful critics of the government such as torturing opponents, abductions and enforced disappearances.