14 October 2017

Zimbabwe: Duo Tormented Over Mugabe 'Old Age' Comments

HARARE Magistrate Josephine Sande on Thursday 12 October 2017 ended the detention of two Zimbabweans who were arrested early this week for allegedly passing some comments over President Robert Mugabe's advanced age, which were deemed unpalatable and insulting by some authorities.

Magistrate Sande on Thursday 12 October 2017 granted $200 bail to Sten Zvorwadza, a prodemocracy campaigner and the leader of the National Vendors Union Zimbabwe (NAVUZ), who was arrested on Tuesday 10 October 2017 and charged with undermining authority or insulting President Mugabe as defined in Section 33 (2) (a) (ii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.

Prosecutors claimed that the 48 year-old Zvorwadza, who is represented by Jeremiah Bamu of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) undermined authority of or insulted President Mugabe when he granted an interview to the Daily News, a local national daily newspaper, in which he allegedly stated that the ZANU PF leader was day dreaming, old and a dead man walking.

In an article published on Monday 09 October 2017, the Daily News quoted Zvorwadza dismissing utterances by President Mugabe who told his ZANU PF party supporters in Harare on Saturday 07 October 2017 that the government would drive out some informal sector traders from operating in the central business district.

Zvorwadza was remanded out of custody to Thursday 16 November 2017.

Magistrate Sande also set free 28 year-old Abraham Rukwava, who had spent two days in police detention after he was arrested on Tuesday 10 October 2017 by a ZRP member and a state security agent, who were aboard a commuter omnibus, he was travelling in from Harare's central business district to the high-density suburb of Kuwadzana and charged with undermining or insulting authority of Mugabe.

Prosecutors alleged that Rukwava, who was represented by Bamu and Noble Chinhanu of ZLHR contravened section 33 (2) (a) (ii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 when he uttered the words "Mutungamiri wenyika ino achembera haachakwanisa kuita chinhu muno munyika" which they translated to mean "The president of this country is too old and is not able to do anything in this country.

The State has also pressed an alternative charge of disorderly conduct as defined in section 41 (b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.The state claimed that by uttering the alleged offensive statement, Rukwava wanted to cause hatred and cause members of the public to lose trust towards President Mugabe.

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