By Kumbirai Mafunda
The trial of two pro-democracy campaigners charged with plotting to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government got off to a false start on Monday 24 June 2019 after the State indicated that it was not yet ready to commence with trial despite undertaking to do so at the last remand proceedings.
Pastor Evan Mawarire, the leader of His Generation Church and Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) President Peter Mutasa were supposed to stand trial at Harare Magistrates Court beginning Monday 24 June 2019 on charges of subverting a constitutional government as defined in section 22 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
According to the State, Pastor Mawarire and Mutasa organised anti-government protests in January with the aim of toppling President Mnangagwa’s administration from power. However, their trial failed to commence as prosecutors sought for a postponement of the matter and the placement of the duo on further remand. In seeking for a postponement, prosecutors argued that they wanted Pastor Mawarire and Mutasa to be indicted for trial at the High Court after alleging that the allocation of the trial date at the Regional Court in Harare was made in error.
However, Pastor Mawarire and Mutasa’s lawyers Alec Muchadehama and Tonderai Bhatasara of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) opposed the State’s application and challenged the placement of the duo on further remand arguing that the State had taken long in placing them on trial.
Harare Magistrate Jessie Kufa, who presided over the matter, will hand down her ruling at 11:15 on Tuesday 25 June 2019 on the State’s application for further placement on remand of Pastor Mawarire and Mutasa.
Earlier on, Harare Magistrate Barbra Mateko remanded ZCTU Secretary-General Japhet Moyo out of custody to 6 August 2019 after dismissing his application for refusal of further remand. Moyo, who is represented by Muchadehama, had challenged his continued placement on remand without being given a trial date considering that it is almost six months since he was arrested in January 2019 and charged with subverting a constitutional government as defined in section 22 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Meanwhile, Magistrate Mateko will on Tuesday 25 June 2019 deliver her ruling on an application filed by the State seeking to revoke bail granted to Obert Masaraure, the leader of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ).
The State claims that Masaraure, who is out of custody on bail on charges of subverting constitutional government, breached his bail conditions by not reporting at Zimbabwe Republic Police station in Hwedza and by not residing at Chemhanza High School in Hwedza in Mashonaland East province, where he is employed as a teacher, as ordered by the High Court.
However, Masaraure’s lawyers Jeremiah Bamu and Doug Coltart of ZLHR disputed the State’s claims and told Magistrate Mateko that the ARTUZ leader had reported to the police and was religiously staying at his given residential address and hence his bail must not be revoked as punishment for breach of conditions.
Magistrate Mateko will hand down her ruling at 2:15 PM on Tuesday 25 June 2019. Apart from Masaraure, Pastor Mawarire, Mutasa and Moyo, 16 other Zimbabweans are due to stand trial on charges of subverting a constitutional government.