23 February 2011

Zimbabwe: Gwisai Charged With Treason, Denied Bail

Photo: Kubatana
Arrested opposition leaders arriving at court (File Photo)

FORMER Highfield legislator Munyaradzi Gwisai and his 45 alleged accomplices, accused of plotting an Egypt and Tunisia-style uprising to oust a constitutionally-elected Government in Zimbabwe, yesterday appeared in court facing treason charges.

Gwisai, who is also the general co-ordinator of the International Socialist Organisation, two ISO staffers Antonator Choto and Tatenda Mombeyarara, Edson Chakuma, Hopewell Gumbo, Welcome Zimuto and 40 others appeared before Harare magistrate Mr Munamato Mutevedzi.

Among them were 11 women.

The group was arrested during a meeting which police say they had not been notified of in line with the law in Harare over the weekend.

Prosecutors Mr Edmore Nyazamba and Mr Dumisani Mthombeni applied to have them remanded on charges of treason.

Defence lawyers Mr Alec Muchadehama and Mr Marufu Mandevere said they did not get full instructions from their clients as they were only given State papers in court yesterday.

Mr Mutevedzi deferred the matter to today and defence lawyers gave notice that they would apply for refusal of remand.

It is the State's case that on February 19 this year, Gwisai (46), Choto (36) and Mombeyarara called for a meeting at number 43 Julius Nyerere Way.

The participants, it is alleged, were drawn from all over the country with the bulk coming from Harare and Chitungwiza. Entry was allegedly by invitation only and a host of speakers were lined up.

The meeting's theme was "ISO calls on workers, students and working people to support the struggle in solidarity with Egyptian and Tunisian workers", it is alleged.

Other speakers lined up did not turn up save for Gwisai, and they were replaced by Gumbo, Zimuto and Choto alias T Sando.

Gwisai allegedly invited ISO, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Zimbabwe National Students Association and Medical Professions Allied Workers' Union representatives to the meeting.

The purpose, the prosecution says, was to organise, stra-tegise and implement the removal of the Government of Zimbabwe by unconstitutional means.

They allegedly viewed a video showing the demonstrations and subsequent removal of former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak and his Tunisian counterpart Zine El Abi-dine Ben Ali.

In their speeches, they reportedly claimed there was a long-serving dictator/authoritarian leader, general hunger, unemployment and capitalist practices by a few individuals while the general populace of Zimbabwe was suffering.

They allegedly likened the scenario with the one that existed in Egypt and Tunisia before the revolts.

It is alleged they said Zimbabwe should revert to socia-lism.

The attendants, the court heard, actively participated in the proposed plan and supported implementation of a revolt against the constitutional Government of Zimbabwe.

All of them allegedly expressed their agreement with the plan.

The State says they were organising/ setting up plans/organising boards for implementation of the illegal revolt.

Police arrested the group after a tip-off and the invitations and video equipment were recovered.

The inscriptions on the items read: "Change is now Socialism ISO" and "Marxism in the Millennium MDC Ndizvo".

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