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Zimbabwe court convicts self-employed worker over Mugabe insult
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
September 23
, 2013

A Zimbabwean court has convicted a self-employed man who allegedly slandered President Robert Mugabe after blaming his unemployment woes on the octogenarian’s mismanagement of the country’s economy.

Chiredzi Magistrate Honest Musiiwa on Friday 21 September 2013 convicted Regis Kandawasvika, aged 36 years, after finding him guilty of undermining or insulting the authority of President Mugabe in contravention of Section 33 (2) (b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, one of the country’s repressive piece of legislation.

Magistrate Musiiwa fined Kandawasvika $150 for committing the offence failure of which he would spend 60 days in jail. Kandawasvika, who denied committing the offence during the trial which commenced late last month and who was represented by Blessing Nyamaropa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) opted to pay the fine.

Particularly angered at his failure to obtain employment despite passing his Ordinary Level examinations, the 36-year-old Chiredzi man vented his anger on President Mugabe’s portrait, prosecutors alleged. Kandawasvika, aged 35 years at the time of his arrest in October last year, was charged with contravening Section of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act).

The State alleged he held President Mugabe accountable for his failure to secure employment despite having obtained six Ordinary Level passes. State prosecutors said

Kandawasvika insulted President Mugabe when he struck the Zanu-PF leader’s portrait hung in Khomanani Bar in Tshovani high density suburb on 2 October 2012. According to the State, Kandawasvika struck the portrait alleging that President Mugabe was the author of Zimbabwe’s unemployment problems. The State alleges Kandawasvika uttered the following words: “Ndiri kutambura nokuda kwehutongi hwezimudhara iri Robert Mugabe. Ndine masabhujekiti six pa‘O’ Level kasi handina basa rekuita. Handidi kana kumboriona zimudhara irori. Ikozvino, gwendo runo riri kuenda kamwe chete.” The State translated this to mean: “I am suffering because of the ruling of this old man Cde Robert Mugabe. I have six ‘O’ level subjects but I have no job. I don’t want to see this old man. This time he is going one way.” The State said the alleged utterances were unlawful, abusive, indecent and obscene. According to the State, after uttering the “unlawful, abusive, indecent and obscene” words, Kandawasvika had an altercation in the bar with Robert Madhambara, a security guard, ignited by political party differences. Kandawasvika allegedly then picked bottle tops from the floor and threw them at President Mugabe’s portrait three times after failing to hit the portrait with a pool table cue stick, the State alleges. The prosecutors say Kandawasvika was only stopped from further pounding the President’s portrait by Augustine Mafukidze, a security guard who informed the police, leading to Kandawasvika’s arrest.

The conviction of Kandawasvika is the latest in a string of draconian prosecutions brought against Zimbabwean citizens considered critical of Mugabe. Since 2010, ZLHR has attended to more than 70 cases where clients have fallen foul of Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, which State authorities routinely invoke against political and human rights activists including ordinary Zimbabweans for allegedly making seemingly innocuous jokes the country’s serving ruler.

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