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Update on MMPZ application to refer case to Supreme Court
The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
February 08, 2012

MMPZ advocacy officers Fadzai December and Molly Chimhanda, and Public Information Rights Forum committee chairman for Gwanda, Gilbert Mabusa, appeared before Gwanda magistrate Sheila Nazombe on February 7th 2012 for their routine remand. Through their lawyer Kossam Ncube, they successfully applied to have the case referred to the Supreme Court on the basis that the charge of undermining the authority of, or insulting the President, violates their constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of expression and protection of the law.

Their lawyer argued that by criminalizing criticism of an elected president, section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act violated Fadzai, Molly and Gilbert's constitutionally guaranteed right to freely express their views concerning the conduct of an elected public official. Their lawyer also argued that section 33 of the Criminal Law Code violated the trio's right to the protection of the law as it was too wide and all encompassing and prone to arbitrary and subjective interpretation by law enforcement agents.

Fadzai, Molly and Gilbert were arrested following their facilitation of a civic education workshop aimed at promoting public information rights in Gwanda and initially faced three charges in respect of knowingly failing to give notice of a gathering in terms of section 25 of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA); participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of the peace, or bigotry; and, alternatively, undermining the authority of or insulting the office of the President in terms sections 37 and 33 of Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. They remain charged with undermining the authority of, or insulting the President, after successfully applying to be removed from remand with regards to the charges of failing to give notice of a gathering, and participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of the peace, or bigotry.

Having referred the matter to the Supreme Court, the magistrate, further remanded the trio to April 30th 2012.

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