By Marcus Mushonga
Harare — MORE than 150 Zimbabweans have over the years been arrested for allegedly insulting or undermining the authority of President Robert Mugabe, whom they want to quit. Most of these charges have been thrown out of court because the laws punishing such offences are vague.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) disclosed the figures after government re-opened a case against a former opposition councilor arrested south of the country for openly telling a cabinet minister Mugabe (93) was too old and should consider stepping down from his position as the leader of the country. Former Movement for Democratic Change councilor, Themba Nyoni, who has retired from politics, has appeared at Gwanda Magistrates Court after his arrest in January for telling Abedinico Ncube, the rural Development, promotion and preservation of national culture and heritage minister he would only join the ruling Zanu-PF if Mugabe retired. An incensed Ncube, also a politician from Gwanda, reported him to police.
He was freed in court in February but the National Prosecuting Authority has challenged the decision. Gwanda Magistrate Wilfed Mafios Moyo will next Tuesday deliver ruling on the freedom bid by Nyoni. ZLHR is challenging the constitutionality of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23) on the basis that it infringes on freedom of expression, particularly of a public figure, and one who must be subjected to scrutiny as a political candidate. Mugabe, in power since 1980, is accused of rigging elections and violating opponents and supporters to retain power. Within his fracturing party, some hardliners have described him as divine and beyond criticism.