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ZRP reprimands police officers over MDC rally and Mugabe slur
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
May 21
, 2013

The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has convicted three police officers for allegedly breaching the Police Act after they reportedly attended an MDC-T political rally held in Mashonaland Central Province last month.

Courage Manyengavana, Marshal Zindoga and Lovemore Mupedzapasi were tried and convicted for contravening the Police Act for allegedly acting in a manner which brought disrespect to the ZRP. The ZRP claimed that the three police officers attended an MDC-T rally held at Mushumbi Business Centre in Mashonaland Central Province on Sunday 27 April 2013, where Solomon Madzore, the head of the MDC-T party youth wing reportedly compared President Robert Mugabe to a lame donkey.

The three police officers were reportedly spotted at the MDC-T rally while in civilian attire by members of the ZRP’s Police Internal Security and Intelligence (PISI) unit.

Zindonga and Mupedzapasi were tried by a “trial officer”, who is a senior police officer in Guruve early this month while Manyengavana’s trial was conducted in Harare, after which they were all sentenced to serve 14 days in detention at Chikurubi Support Unit Camp. They are currently serving their 11th day in incarceration and human rights lawyer, Dr Tarisai Mutangi of Donsa-Nkomo&Mutangi Legal Practice is representing them.

The three police officers were tried and convicted within the police internal disciplinary processes which are provided for under the Police Act.

In his address at the rally, Madzore, who is out of prison custody on bail allegedly called President Mugabe “a limping donkey” who should be retired.

Since 2010, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights has noted a dramatic increase in the arbitrary application of Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, where individuals have been charged with allegedly “insulting or undermining the authority of the President”. ZLHR has attended to 65 cases where clients have fallen foul of this law. Due to continued delays in the justice delivery system, most of the cases are pending although two have since been finalised, with the beneficiaries being acquitted. In other instances, clients have been removed from remand due to failure by the State to prosecute timeously. The constitutionality of this provision has been challenged on several occasions, on the basis that it infringes on freedom of expression, particularly of a public figure, and one who must be subject to scrutiny as a political candidate. The Supreme Court, sitting as a Constitutional Court, is however yet to make a determination on these cases.

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