MDC officials in trouble over Mugabe insult

HARARE - Four officials in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC who allegedly called President Robert Mugabe “a thief” have been summoned to the Chinhoyi Magistrates’ Court.

The four, MDC Mashonaland West deputy chairperson Eddy Ndirayire, Hurungwe North district youth organising secretary Gabriel Japan, ward secretary and treasurer Luxmore Zintambila and Abel Kasure are jointly charged with undermining the authority and insulting the President as defined in Section 33 (2) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act).

They will appear in court on January 23.

According to summons from Chinhoyi police, it is alleged that while addressing party supporters at Nyamakate Business Centre on September 1, 2012, Ndirayire, Kasure,  Zintambila and Japan made statements about the President saying “Jealous Mateyesanwa imbavha pamwe na president wacho imbavha”, meaning that both Mugabe and Mateyesanwa are thieves .

Mateyesanwa is a Zanu PF councillor for ward 7 in Hurungwe North Constituency.

Police said the statements were made “with the knowledge or realising that there was a real risk or possibility that the statement is false and that it may engender feeling of hostility towards or cause hatred, contempt or ridicule of the President”.

MDC organising secretary for the province Wilson Makanyaire said the deputy chairperson and three youth assembly officials will appear in court in Chinhoyi on allegations of insulting the President.

“I cannot say anything more since the matter is now before the courts,” said Makanyaire.

Several people including top MDC officials such as the party’s treasurer-general Elton Mangoma and spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora have been hauled before the courts to answer charges of insulting the president.

Mwonzora said the action by the police was part of an ongoing harassment of MDC leadership by the state which is meant to slow down his party’s penetration of the province.

“This insult law is meant to keep the playing field tilted in favour of Zanu PF by ensuring there is no public criticism of Mugabe yet Zanu PF officials denigrate his opponents especially Tsvangirai,” said Mwonzora, adding that the only way his party could compete against Mugabe politically is to criticise him.

“This law has been challenged in the Supreme Court for the past decade and the court is sitting on the challenges.

“It fails to appreciate that some of us are against Mugabe’s continued presidency and we cannot campaign against him without criticising him,” Mwonzora added. - Staff Writer

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