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Legal Monitor Issue 103
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)

July 25, 2011

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Mugabe, biscuit remarks land guard in court

A 52-year-old man is in trouble after allegedly telling a ZANU PF workmate that President Robert Mugabe's death was imminent.

Zebedia Mpofu, a general hand labourer at a private security firm, allegedly mocked his workmate, informing him that a soft drink and packet of biscuits he was having for lunch came courtesy of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. He is being charged under the harsh Section 33 (1) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 as read with Section 33 (2) (a) of the same Act for allegedly undermining the authority or insulting the President.

According to the State outline, Mpofu was at work in October last year when he went to Gilbert Matarutse's office. Matarutse, a security officer known to be a ZANU PF supporter, was having his lunch at the time.

"The accused shouted to Gilbert through the window, saying that the biscuits and the cascade he was having were brought by MDC-T through its leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai," reads the State outline. "He went further to say that President Mugabe had ruined the country and that he was going to be dead by December 2010 then Morgan Tsvangirai would take over as President of Zimbabwe."

Statements recorded from other workmates acting as witnesses all deny hearing Mpofu utter the alleged words. Mpofu joins dozens of other Zimbabweans, from politicians to ordinary villagers, who are in court charged under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act on politically-related issues.

For example, Chiredzi Central Member of Parliament Hon. Moses Mare, is on trial for allegedly assaulting a minor at a funeral in Chiredzi over a pro-Mugabe song. Hon. Mare was arrested in January last year on allegations of contravening Section 89 (1) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.

Prosecutors claim that Hon. Mare was so incensed by a 13-year-old boy's decision to join in the singing of a Mugabe praise hymn "Nyatsoteerera unzwe kutonga" at a funeral that he hit the juvenile on the neck using open hands in January last year.

The MDC MP denies the charge, which he says is fabricated. Three Chiweshe villagers, Tinashe Chinyemba, Luckson Khumalo and Tafadzwa Chironga have been summoned to Bindura Magistrates' Court for allegedly distorting one of the pro-Mugabe songs by inserting Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's name into its lyrics.

The villagers are being charged under Section 41 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 for conduct likely to provoke the breach of peace.

In Penhalonga, Manicaland, another three residents Patrick Chikoti, Faith Mudiwa and Phillip Dowera were in February charged under the same law for allegedly singing a modified version of Mbare Chimurenga Choir's "Nyatsoteerera unzwe kutonga" song at a funeral.

The residents were accused of having sung: "Nyatsoterera unzwe kupenga muhofisi mune mboko nyatsoterera unzwe kupenga' and 'Ngatishandei nesimba takabatana tibvise kamudhara aka muoffice mupinde president wenyika Morgan Tsvangirai (Listen carefully to the madman and idiot in the office. Let's work hard to remove this old man from office and install Tsvangirai)."

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