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Legal Monitor Issue - 114
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)

October 10, 2011

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Zanu PF sanctions throw boilermaker in hot water

A boilermaker here is in hot water for refusing to sign a petition being championed by ZANU PF to denounce smart sanctions imposed on President Robert Mugabe and his close military, business and ZANU PF associates. Oliver Chikumba's offence: Refusing to sign the ZANU PF anti-sanctions petition and allegedly calling for President Mugabe to travel to Hwange for a personal meeting with him. The 27-year-old Hwange Colliery boilermaker is now before the court accused of having "intentionally uttered a statement concerning the President with the knowledge or realising that there is a real risk or possibility that it may cause hatred, contempt or ridicule of the President."

He is being charged under Secton 33 (2) (a) (ii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 09:23. "That is rubbish handidi kusaina nokuti andisi ZANU PF member ini ndiri member yeMDC-T. Ini ndiri kuda iye Robert Mugabe wacho pano kwete iwewe,"are the words the State alleges were uttered by Chikumba after a ZANU PF activist Samukeliso Mlonyeni asked him to sign the anti-sanctions petition. A police translation to the boilermaker's words reads: "That is rubbish. I do not want to sign because I am not a ZANU PF member. I am a member of MDC-T. I want Robert Mugabe himself and not yourself." It was not even the police that arrested Chikumba.

Mlonyeni tasked State intelligence officers Darlington Nhova, Marshal Nyoni and Elijah Majoni to apprehend Chikumba. In papers filed in court, Nhova states that his crew "traced" Chikumba until "we got him" at Baobab Hotel. Several civil society groups such as the Zimbabwe Peace Project and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition have repeatedly accused State institutions of joining hands with ZANU PF activists to force people to sign the anti-sanctions petition. Mugabe launched the petition earlier this year, indicating he wanted at least two million people to sign the petition. He plans to use the petition to approach international bodies to appeal against the targeted sanctions.

Government officials, including cabinet ministers, have repeatedly said Mlonyeni's workplace, the Youth Ministry, is the hub of ghost workers. Citing an independent audit, they accuse ZANU PF of stuffing its activists in the ministry from where they draw a government salary for doing party work.

Chikumba is denying the charges.

"I do not admit to the charges levelled against me. I only said that I will not sign the anti-sanctions petition forms since they were for ZANU PF and I belong to the MDC-T. I did not mention anything about the President of Zimbabwe," he states in his warned and cautioned statement.

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