Harare, January 28, 2015 – Lawyers and journalists were on Wednesday treated to lighter moments in the Constitutional Court after Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku made references to the offensive ZANU PF party slogans.
“If somebody calls the President a weevil or gamatox, are you going to prosecute that person?” asked Chidyausiku in a question directed at state prosecutor Edwin Nyazamba, who had insisted that MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora had insulted President Mugabe by allegedly labelling him a goblin.
Nyazamba had attempted to convince the court that Mwonzora had insulted Mugabe when he allegedly likened the ZANU PF leader to a goblin in 2009, which he said is defined “as something that actually brings horror to human beings.”
But Chidyausiku quashed Nyazamba’s charge.
“I am just saying politicians call each names. It is the trade of politicians. Why are you bringing it in court for prosecution. If somebody calls the Chief Justice a goblin, why should the law bother itself about that? Do you believe it that the President is a goblin,” queried Chidyausiku.
Weevils and Gamatox are slogans which emerged in the run-up to ZANU PF’s national congress in December where in party supporters aligned to ousted Vice President Joice Mujuru and former secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa were referred to as the Gamatox camp while those affiliated to newly elected Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa boasted that they were weevils.
The feud between long-time rivals, Mnangagwa and Mujuru, in the battle to succeed Mugabe became so apparent as they angled to occupy the party’s Vice-President’s position which is key in solving the ZANU PF succession matrix once Mugabe decides to step down from power.
Mujuru, who had been the party’s second in command since 2004 lost her post to Mnangagwa after Mugabe and his wife blacklisted her for being power hungry and plotting to assassinate the octogenarian leader, a charge which the former lieutenant denied.
The ZANU PF politburo later banned its members from chanting what it termed the unsanctioned and provocative slogans while Mugabe was tasked to appoint a commission of inquiry to probe the ugly factionalism that strongly divided the ruling party.
Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court on Wednesday quashed insult cases brought by the State against several citizens after lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) challenged their prosecution for lack of merit.
In one of the cases, the Prosecutor-General’s office withdrew charges against Gilbert Kagodora, an MDC-T politician who was accused of undermining the authority of or insulting Mugabe. This led Chidyausiku to remove the matter off the Constitutional Court roll. Kagodora, whose case emanates from 2010 was accused of contravening Section 33 (2) (a) (i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 by undermining the authority of or insulting the President. The police alleged that Kagodora denounced Mugabe during an address to party supporters at a constitutional awareness meeting held at Nzvimbo Council Hall in Chiweshe, Mashonaland Central on 11 March 2010, when he said; “Mugabe mudenga, Grace mudenga, vabatanidzei, roverai pasi,” which the police deduced to mean “Mugabe up, Grace up, bring them together and drop them on the ground.”
Chidyausiku reserved ruling in the case of Mwonzora and Shantel Rusike, a Bulawayo resident who was also accused of insulting Mugabe after she allegedly sent a message through a mobile phone depicting Mugabe as nude.