PDZ official faces presidential insult charge

BULAWAYO - Police yesterday summoned opposition Progressive Democrats of Zimbabwe (PDZ) secretary general Mthokozisi Ncube to answer to three charges including insulting President Robert Mugabe.

Ncube was also charged for holding an illegal meeting and inciting violence outside Iminyela Hall in Mpopoma high density suburb during a parliamentary hearing on electoral reforms in February.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)’s Lizwe Jamela, who is representing Ncube, confirmed the development.

“Ncube faces three counts, which include convening a public meeting without notifying the authorities, participating in a gathering with the intention to commit public violence and also insulting or undermining the authority of the president,” Jamela said, adding that “it was not yet clear for now what the police claim he said.”

Ncube, who recently joined the little-known Barbra Nyagomo-led PDZ, was forced to write a statement in response to the charges in the presence of his lawyer.

In the statement, Ncube, who also leads the radical Bulawayo Youth Arise (Buya), vehemently denied the charges.

“I do not admit to the allegations levelled against me. I am a human rights activist of an organisation that actively advocates for a better life and future for youths in Bulawayo. And the organisation is not of political nature,” reads the statement.

While he admitted to have attended the parliamentary portfolio committee meeting on the day in question, Ncube denied ever convening a public meeting in contravention of a Public Order and Security Act (Posa).

“At all material times, I did not commit or formulate any intention to incite or promote any acts of violence, breaches of the peace or bigotry and neither did I insult or undermine the authority of ... Mugabe.

“I believe that my actions in the day in question were within the framework of exercising my fundamental freedoms as protected by the Constitution,” Ncube said.

Reacting to the incident, PDZ’s spokesperson Morgan Nare said this was part of Zanu PF’s intimidation agenda ahead of the 2018 elections.

“The people who arrested him are the ones who have a case to answer by trying to stand in the way of freedom of speech and democracy.”

Nare further described the move by the police as a clear abuse of State coffers to “protect their misrule by such wanton acts against citizens and political opposition parties.”

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