My case has been politicised — Lumumba

HARARE – Former Zanu PF youth leader William Mutumanje, popularly known as Acie Lumumba, has said his presidential insult case is going in circles because it has been politicised.

Mutumanje appeared before Harare magistrate Nomsa Sabarauta represented by David Hofisi facing charges of undermining the authority of the president.

Hofisi made another application for referral of the case to the Constitutional Court (Con-Court) to reinstate his application challenging the constitutionality of charges he is facing.

Mutumanje’s case was previously referred to the Con-Court after he argued that his constitutional right to freedom of expression had been trampled on when he was charged under section 33 (2) (b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act).

Prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba confirmed the withdrawal, before advocate Zvikomborero Chadambuka — who represented Lumumba —then withdrew the application.

However, to Mutumanje’s surprise, when he appeared at Harare Magistrates’ Courts anticipating withdrawal of the charges, prosecutors advised him that they were going to proceed to trial.

In the current application, Hofisi wants the apex court to decide “whether or not the conduct of the State, in choosing to ignore its commitment to withdraw charges in the Con-Court on May 24, 2017 but rather proceed to apply for a trial date conforms to the rule of law”.

“When the State commits to withdrawing charges in a higher court but opts to proceed to trial in the lower court that is procedurally and substantively unfair. Since State has opted to change its mind, the accused person must similarly be permitted to return to Con-Court and withdraw his withdrawal,” Hofisi said in his application for referral.

“The matter should be allowed to go back to where this mess arose. In this way, Con-Court itself can make a determination whether the conduct of the State is substantively and procedurally fair.”

Mutumanje took to the witness stand and pleaded with the court to refer the matter to Con-Court because he was being prejudiced.

“It has been 13 months paying visits to various courts in this building and on six occasions, the State has been unable to begin the matter as they have either changed prosecutors or requested for time to consult with higher offices,” Mutumanje said.

“I am an international consultant and travel a lot with my work. This has affected my rights of profession and my ability to do politics. The longer State keeps me busy in this court, I am unable to perform my political functions.

“I am not even sure that I would stand a fair trial and plead with the court to safeguard the rule of law because clearly, the State is no longer representing legal interests but political interests.”

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