14 June 2017

Zimbabwe: Mutumanje Still in Trouble

Former Zanu-PF activist William Mutumanje, popularly known as Acie Lumumba and accused of insulting President Mugabe, intends to make a fresh application for referral of his matter to the Constitutional Court following the State's stance to proceed with his trial despite having earlier told the apex court that it was withdrawing charges against him.

Mutumanje recently withdrew his constitutional application when the prosecution advised the Constitutional Court that it was withdrawing charges. He had brought his application to the Constitutional Court, arguing that his utterances did not constitute an offence and that his constitutional rights as enshrined in the Constitution were being infringed.

At the hearing before a full bench of the Constitutional Court, Mutumanje's lawyer, Advocate Zvikomborero Chadambuka instructed by Mr David Hofisi, advised the court that his client was no longer pursuing the matter.

He indicated that the State, led by law officer Mr Edmore Nyazamba had agreed to withdraw the criminal charges against his client, which gave rise to the application and Mr Nyazamba confirmed the development.

However, the prosecution on Monday made a U-turn and indicated to the court that it was not withdrawing charges against Lumumba and insisted on proceeding to trial.

For that reason, Mutumanje wants his matter referred again to the Constitutional Court for intervention. He then placed the State on notice of his intentions to make a fresh application for referral of the matter on the next remand date.

"We want to refer our case to the Concourt because of the current circumstances," he said. "That referral is based on fair trial rights as enshrined in the Constitution. It is important because fair trial rights are not subject to limitation. "The question would be whether there can be a fair trial when the accused is ambushed the way he has been in the current matter."

When Mutumanje appeared in court on Monday before Ms Nomsa Sabarauta expecting a withdrawal, prosecutor Ms Venancia Mutake said they were proceeding with trial and proposed July 18 as the trial date.

She said she had not received any communication on withdrawal from the National Prosecuting Authority. Ms Mutake said the State was proceeding with trial since Mutumanje withdrew his Con-Court application. Mutumanje then told the court that the State hoodwinked him to withdraw. Ms Sabarauta requested to see a photocopy of the Concourt record of proceedings before passing a ruling.

When Mutumanje appeared before the same magistrate yesterday, his lawyer advised the court that the record was still being transcribed and sought a postponement of the matter to July 24. "Your Worship, the constitutional proceedings are still being transcribed and after that the judge will certify. "I therefore seek for a postponement of the matter pending the transcript," he said.

Ms Sabarauta remanded the matter to July 24. It is the State's case that on June 30, last year, Mutumanje, who was addressing people during the launch of his political party, said: "Mr President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, f*** you".


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