War vets seek exception to insult rap

HARARE - War veterans’ leaders facing charges of insulting President Robert Mugabe yesterday sought exception to the charge after stating they did not recognise at law the acting Prosecutor-General (PG) Ray Goba.

The PG generated the requisite certificate authorising the ex-liberation fighters’ trial on the presidential insult charge.

Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) spokesperson Douglas Mahiya, ZNLWVA secretary-general Victor Matemandada, political commissar Francis Nhando, the deputy chairperson Headman Moyo and Hoyini Samuel Bhila argued that the Constitution makes no provisions for the appointment of an acting PG and that Goba, who they contend has a criminal record, is disqualified from holding the position and is therefore unlawfully in office.

Goba accuses the war veterans of contravening Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act on charges of undermining the authority of or insulting the president.

They appeared before Harare regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya, represented by leading lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa, Andrew Makoni and Harrison Nkomo. The case was postponed to today after prosecutor Tapiwa Kasema indicated that he needed to attend to a personal issue.

However, Mtetwa argued that they should be allowed to plead and make an application for exception to the charge.

“ . . . the certificate issued by the Prosecutor-General is not valid,” Mtetwa said, adding that the allegations cited did not disclose any offence.

Kasema responded that it was prudent for the accused persons to dispense the dispute about the certificate before they can plead or proffer their defence.

“If the accused persons are alleging that the certificate is not valid, in other words they are saying that they were unlawfully placed before this court. They ought to iron out those issues first,” Kasema said.

Allegations against Mahiya arose between April 7 and July 21, when he allegedly connived with Matemadanda, Mhandu, Bhila, Moyo and ZNLWVA members, who are still at large, and authored a document that undermined Mugabe’s office.

According to court papers, the document was captioned, War Veterans Communiqué on the State of Zimbabwe’s Economy, the Zanu PF Party Leadership and the Way Forward for the People of Zimbabwe.

The State alleged that information contained in the document was defamatory.

“It will be recalled that our fellow war veterans and masses in the western region suffered brutal purges which only the Unity Accord pacified. Particularly worrisome in this context is the fact that, whilst the man (Mugabe) has dismissed that sad period as, ‘a moment of madness’, such language belies his insincerity in the Unity Accord,” reads part of the communiqué.

“He should be extending an honestly remorseful regret over this foul deed, yet he appears to extol this as some macabre virtue. His continued resort to genocidal language should worry every right-thinking citizen as to his true nature. This is unacceptable to the memories of those who perished during that time.”

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