Maputo — A court in the northern Mozambican province of Niassa on Thursday sentenced three members of the ruling Frelimo Party to five months imprisonment for vandalizing property of the opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), reports Friday's issue of the independent newsheet “Mediafax”.
The court in the district of Mandimba found the Frelimo members guilty of destroying an MDM flag about three weeks ago.
A group of Frelimo supporters went to the village of Lussangazi, and took down the MDM flag from the party's office there. Questioned by MDM members, they said they had “orders from above”, because the MDM had no authorisation to fly its flag in the village.
But under Mozambican legislation, no authorisation is needed for a political party to hoist its flag from its own offices or from the homes of its supporters.
“They said that, in order to fly our flag, we had to ask for authorisation from the head of the locality and then from the administrative post. We asked them in what law this was written, and they did not answer”, the MDM Niassa provincial delegate, Raimundo Pitagoras, told “Mediafax”.
“They even threatened to beat up the MDM members who were in the office”, he added.
So the MDM sued three named members of Frelimo for ripping down their flag, the case made it to court, and the court found that the Frelimo members had indeed acted illegally.
The MDM has complained repeatedly that Frelimo supporters rip down its flags in various parts of the country, citing completely fictitious rules that political parties need authorisation to fly their flags.