Mnangagwa defends insult law

HARARE - Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister, has defended an insult law that outlaws mocking the President and communicating of falsehoods, claiming it is justifiable in a democratic society.

Mnangagwa was responding to the Constitutional Court’s decision to have insult laws and communication of falsehoods declared unconstitutional.

The court made the ruling following  an appeal by Alpha Media Holdings journalists Constantine Chimakure, Vincent Kahiya and Bulawayo-based visual artist Owen Maseko, accused of publishing or communicating a false statement prejudicial to the State and insulting the president respectively.

The minister was summoned to court last month to defend the two statutes.

Maseko approached the Constitutional Court, seeking stay of prosecution, after being arrested for publishing “offensive” Gukurahundi paintings.

Mnangagwa, who was represented by Chris Mutangadura, said writing falsehoods about the uniformed forces and the president affects the safety of the public and might result in public disorder.

“Given that a private citizen has a right to reputation, the office of the President as headed by him personally may be diminished if the head is savaged falsely,” Mnangagwa said.

He added that, “insulting and undermining the president automatically has the corresponding effect of causing breach of public order and public safety.”

Mnangagwa said defamatory statements about the president were not part of the core values of freedom of expression.

“In fact it is here argued that public morality abhors the insulting and undermining of a head of state,” Mnangagwa averred. “What is moral is governed on the societal norms. The Zimbabwean society is premised upon the general need to subject a popularly elected leader to contempt and ridicule.

“The rationale for having this offence is not strange if properly juxtaposed with the rationale behind the offence of scandalising the court. It is thus submitted that the law criminalising undermining or insulting the president is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.”

Mnangagwa said the Constitutional Court grossly erred in ruling in favour of Chimakure, Kahiya and Maseko.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku yesterday postponed the matter indefinitely to allow Maseko, Chimakure and Kahiya’s lawyers to respond to Mnangagwa’s heads of argument.

Comments (8)

Munangagwa fancies himself as a lawyer but people must remember that Munangagwa and Uncle Bob are just lawyers in theory. These two have never even represented any client in a court of law. Not even a pickpocket. Munangagwa is a mudhumeni and Bob is a mudzidzisi!

Boorangoma - 21 November 2013

It is this obsession with trivia that makes many doubt whether Mr. Munangagwa is suitable for the top job in the land. For someone who is touted as a front runner why should he bother himself with this nonsense except dilute his standing with the public at large. It is almost like his rivals are responsible for making this statement. Frankly, there are more weighty issues he should concern himself with..That he is a gifted behind the scenes organiser with no equal in the party is a huge plus for him, why is he not building on this rather than make these meaningless forays into god-knows-where?

gutter poet - 21 November 2013

Hmm this mungarwa guya should not get the top position.He is showing ruthless signs before he get in the top post.He has dictatorship dna and more calous than his present master.Mujuru is the better option

baba Chatunga - 21 November 2013

"justifiable in a democratic society"? This guy needs to quit smoking whatever he inhales. Mr Munangagwa have you read American, British, French, German or South African papers when they write negatively about their politicians including heads of state and or governments? These so called insults on Mugabe pale into insignificance....they are childs play. One of your problems (for they are many) is misplaced priorities. The amount of money you spend chasing shadows instead of dealing with real issues.

Jokers United - 21 November 2013

I am going to suggest here that if Mnangagwa and or RGM were able to get our email addresses and names here they would want to prosecute a whole bunch of us. Civilized states and progressive governments allows freedom of expression (within reasonable bounds of course) and dissent. I cant see why it is unreasonable to say that gukurahundi was an evil visited upon an innocent people by a government or its proxies over false pretences of fighting insurgency. This is something that actually happened and over 20 000 innocent Zimbabweans died, and so for someone to go to court to defend that insulting a general, or Mugabe should be punishable by jail, when people died, and no one including Mnangagwa and Shiri never spend a single day at trial let alone jail or prison, is the most insulting thing I have ever heard.

tino - 21 November 2013

Do they ever visit these comments?They are spineless fools.

jacob tavengwa - 22 November 2013

Do they ever visit these comments?They are spineless fools.

jacob tavengwa - 22 November 2013

Mnangagwa is defending the insult law because he feels that one day he will be the next president of Zimbabwe. So when he is in power he does not want to be criticised or called names. African leaders do not like to be criticised because they think that they are demi gods and perfect. Also African leaders especially first time leaders become very very sensitive of any criticism and they go nuts and get people arrested for criticising them. African leaders are still in the infantile stage of development in politics where they cannot handle insults or criticisims, they still need to grow up a bit in politics as rulers of countries, maybe in a few centuries to come, they would have grown up a bit in politics and might start ignoring criticisms and insults. Vakuru vanoti, Gudo guru peta muswe kuti vadiki vaku respect. Words of insults are mere words, they do not cause wounds on the flesh, people must just be strong minded and ignore insults.

Strong Minded - 22 November 2013

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.