By Professor Matodzi
Masvingo, August 28, 2013 – A resident has landed in trouble here after he assisted a soldier with President Robert Mugabe’s election campaign poster to use as toilet paper.
Takura Mufumisi, aged 26 years, was recently arrested and charged with destroying President Mugabe’s political campaign poster after he tore apart the aging leader’s campaign material which he intended to use as toilet paper.
Prosecutors charge that Mufumisi was intercepted by Osmen Mudzengi, a retired sergeant in the Zimbabwe National Army who had visited the toilet at Landmark Bar in Masvingo and borrowed toilet paper from him. Mufumisi reportedly passed on to Mudzengi, Mugabe’s campaign poster and this infuriated the soldier who then arrested him before handing him over to the police.
This, the prosecutors charged contravened Section 152 (3) of the Electoral Act.
During his trial, prosecutors produced the torn poster as exhibit and insisted that Mufumisi had acted unlawfully by doing so.
However, the resident was acquitted recently after being represented by lawyers from Mutendi and Shumba, who are members of legal defence group, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).
According to ZLHR, there has been a dramatic increase in the arrest and prosecution of people for allegedly insulting Mugabe.
Since 2010, ZLHR has recorded more than 70 cases where individuals have been charged with allegedly “insulting or undermining the authority of the President” in contravention of Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act with Mashonaland Central province topping the list.
ZLHR has challenged the constitutionality of this provision on several occasions, on the basis that it infringes on freedom of expression, particularly of a public figure, and one who must be subject to scrutiny as a political candidate. The Supreme Court, sitting as a Constitutional Court, is however yet to make a determination on these cases and the delay to hear them has allowed cases to escalate.