A ZIMBABWEAN court on Tuesday 30 June 2020 condemned Epraim Mutombeni, the Director of Masvingo Centre for Research Advocacy and Community Development (MACRD), a local non-governmental organisation, to prison after he was arrested Sunday 28 June 2020 and charged with undermining authority of or insulting President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mutombeni aged 28 years was denied bail by Magistrate Mbonisi Ndlovu, who ruled that the MACRAD leader is a flight risk and could escape from standing trial.
Mutombeni, who is represented by Martin Mureri of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) had applied for his release on bail after he was arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) members on Sunday 28 June 2020 and charged with undermining authority of or insulting President Mnangagwa as defined in section 33(2)(a)(i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Prosecutors alleged that Mutombeni faulted President Mnangagwa during an address to some commuters, who were queuing and waiting to board a ZUPCO bus, for presiding over Zimbabwe’s agonising economic crisis and demanding that the ZANU PF party leader resigns.
Mutombeni is alleged to have uttered the words; “Murikuona kumira kwamakaita pa queue imhosva ya President E.D Mnangagwa arikukwidza ma prices e fuel achiba mari nevana vake. E.D must go,” which if loosely translated means; “You are suffering as a result of President Mnangagwa’s poor leadership and corruption committed by himself and his children and his failure to stem fuel price hikes and he should resign.”
ZRP members also arrested freelance journalist Godfrey Mtimba and charged him with undermining authority of or insulting President Mnangagwa before releasing him into the custody of his lawyer Phillip Shumba of Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe Chapter. ZRP members said they will summon Mtimba to appear in court this week.
Mutombeni and Mtimba are the latest persons to be arrested and charged with undermining authority of or insulting President Mnangagwa.
In Harare, Magistrate Barbra Mateko on Tuesday 30 June 2020 set free pro-democracy campaigner Makomborero Haruzivishe on RTGS$1 000 bail after he was arrested on Monday 29 June 2020 by ZRP members and charged with committing public violence for allegedly participating in an anti-government protest against hunger and abuse of financial resources by President Mnangagwa’s administration.
Haruzivishe, who was represented by Gift Mtisi of ZLHR, was charged with participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of the peace or bigotry as defined in section 37 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and for contravening section 5(3) (a) as read with section 5(1) of Statutory Instrument 99 of 2020 of Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) Order, 2020.
Prosecutors charged that Haruzivishe participated in an illegal demonstration held on 13 May 2020 in Warren Park 1 suburb in which opposition MDC-Alliance party supporters allegedly staged a flash protest against abuse of financial resources and the extension of a government enforced national lockdown by President Mnangagwa.
During the demonstration, prosecutors argued, that Haruzivishe and some protestors reportedly carried a placard inscribed “Unlock Us Before We Revolt”.
Haruzivishe becomes the latest person to be arrested and charged for allegedly participating in the flash protest, which has already seen the prosecution of Harare West legislator Hon. Joanah Mamombe and several MDC-Alliance party youth leaders including Obey Tererai Sithole, Cecelia Chimbiri, Netsai Marova, Lovejoy Chitengu and Stanley Manyenga.
Earlier on, Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe leader Obert Masaraure was on Saturday 27 June 2020 set free on RTGS$500 bail after he was arrested by ZRP members on Friday 26 June 2020 and charged with participating in an anti-government protest held on Monday 22 June 2020 in which teachers allegedly demonstrated against poor salaries working conditions.
Masaraure, who was represented by Mureri and Tonderai Bhatasara of ZLHR, was charged with contravening section 37(1)(a)(i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and accused of leading an unlawful protest together with 48 other people in which teachers demanded to be paid US$520 in monthly salaries.
Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights