An organising secretary for the MDC-T Bulawayo Central branch was arrested on Saturday for allegedly insulting Robert Mugabe, after a notorious ZANU PF activist told the police that his phone contained music with lyrics that insulted the ageing ZANU PF leader.
Nyengerai Stanley Makundidze has been jailed since Saturday, according to SW Radio Africa's Bulawayo correspondent Lionel Saungweme, who said lawyers have been denied access to Makundidze and it is not clear how he is being treated.
Trusted sources said Makundidze was approached by a notorious ZANU PF youth named only as Charumbira, who assaulted him then grabbed his phone and ran away. What seemed like a robbery turned to something else when Charumbira showed up later with the police and Makundidze was arrested.
"There was no provocation whatsoever. Sources said he (Charumbira) phoned another ZANU PF youth named Buto Gatsi, who is notorious in these parts and asked what he should do with the phone. Gatsi told him to call the police," Saungweme explained.
Our correspondent, who saw the police charge sheet, said the police claim Makundidze has messages on his phone and music with lyrics that insult Robert Mugabe. The message and lyrics were not specified. The MDC-T official is being represented by a lawyer named Chamunorwa.
Last month the MDC-T MP for Epworth, Eliah Jembere, was removed from remand on charges of undermining Mugabe's authority at the Bindura Magistrates' Court. The case had dragged on since his arrest in June 2011, with state witnesses failing to turn up.
Addressing hundreds of party supporters Jembere had said: "Mugabe mudenga, Zanu PF mudenga, vabatanidzei, roverai pasi". (Mugabe up, ZANU PF UP, put them together and throw them down). The case crumbled after the trial was postponed several times when state witnesses failed to show up.
A carpenter from Dangamvura was also recently accused of undermining the authority of the president after making a joke about Mugabe. Watching live coverage of Mugabe's 88th birthday celebrations this year Richmore Jazi suggested the ailing Mugabe must have had help blowing up the balloons.
Jazi was released on US$20 bail and due back in court later this year.
Police have made several arrests of civilians accused of insulting Mugabe, using Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. After her visit to Zimbabwe last month the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said this controversial legislation needed to be repealed.
No ZANU PF activists have ever been arrested for their many insults against Prime Minister and MDC-T president, Morgan Tsvangirai. Lawyers have said the law is being used to stifle criticism of Mugabe and ZANU PF.