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State drops charges against MP pending Supreme Court decision as activists trial set for July
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)

April 20, 2011

The trial of Makoni South Member of Parliament Hon. Pishai Muchauraya for allegedly undermining and insulting the authority of President Robert Mugabe's authority could not commence at Murambinda Magistrates Court on Wednesday 20 April 2011 after the legislators' lawyers served Magistrate Henry Sande with a Supreme Court application in which Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) is challenging the Magistrate's initial refusal to refer the matter to the Constitutional court.

One of Hon. Muchauraya's lawyers Blessing Nyamaropa of ZLHR produced the application which had been drafted and filed by Tawanda Zhuwarara of ZLHR in March challenging the decision by Magistrate Sande to dismiss the legislator's application to have the matter referred to the Supreme Court.

Zhuwarara petitioned the Supreme Court in March seeking to overturn Magistrate Sande's ruling barring the Makoni South MP from approaching the Constitutional Court to determine the constitutionality of Section 33 (2) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23). Hon Muchauraya is also being charged with contravening Section 37 (1) (b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23) for allegedly participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence. The lawyers also want the Supreme Court to determine the constitutionality of the Section of the law.

The Movement for Democratic Change MP is being charged under the two sections of the law for uttering public statements that allegedly undermined President Mugabe's authority at a public gathering in October 2006.

The lawyers say these particular sections of the law are unconstitutional and give President Mugabe an unfair advantage over his political rivals.

Nyamaropa highlighted that it was clear that since Magistrate Sande was cited as the first respondent in the Supreme Court application he could no longer preside over the matter.

The State conceded and withdrew charges before plea pending the finalisation of the Supreme Court matter.

After the determination of the matter, the State would decide whether to proceed by way of summons or not.

Meanwhile in Harare, State prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba set July 18 2011 as the trial date for six social, economic justice and human rights activists charged with treason. In an unprecedented move Nyazamba said the trial would take place in the regional magistrates court instead of the High Court, which usually preside over treason trials. The activists' lawyer Marufu Mandevere advised Harare Magistrate Don Ndirovei that he would apply for the relaxation of the activists bail conditions. The six activists are Munyaradzi Gwisai, Hopewell Gumbo, Antonater Choto, Welcome Zimuto, Eddson Chakuma, and Tatenda Mombeyarara.

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