Zimbabwean authorities have stepped up their crackdown against perceived opponents of President Emmerson Mnangagwa after arresting and charging a Bulawayo man with undermining authority of or insulting the ZANU PF party leader.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) reported that Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers on Friday 26 October 2018 arrested Wisdom Mkwananzi and charged him with undermining authority of or insulting President Mnangagwa as defined in section 33(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 after he allegedly stated during a public hearing conducted at Rainbow Hotel in Bulawayo by the Commission of Inquiry into the 01 August 2018 killing of civilians, that he had been orphaned because the ZANU PF party leader had masterminded the killing of his parents during the Gukurahundi mass killings in the early 80’s.
The law enforcement agents alleged that the 32 year-old Mkwananzi, allegedly pointed at President Mnangagwa’s portrait, which was pasted onto the wall during his testimony before the former South African leader Kgalema Motlanthe-led Commission of Inquiry into the post-election violence and stated that “I am an orphan because of this man, he killed my parents.”
ZRP officers charged that by uttering such a statement, Mkwananzi, who was represented by Jabulani Mhlanga and Tinashe Runganga of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), engendered a feeling of hostility towards or caused hatred or ridicule of President Mnangagwa.
Mkwananzi was also charged with lying under oath as defined in section 10 of the Justice of Peace and Commissioners of Oaths Act Chapter 7:09.
The police officers claimed that Mkwananzi unlawfully and intentionally supplied a false name to the Commission of Inquiry after
he allegedly told the probe team that his name is Siphatha Mandla, which is different from the name, which appears on his national identity card.
Mkwananzi also faces a third charge of assault as defined in section 89 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, where ZRP officers alleged that he intentionally bit Luckmore Dube once on the right hand intending to cause bodily harm.
Mkwananzi, who appeared in court on Saturday 27 October 2018, returns to court on Monday 29 October 2018 for a determination of his bail application.
Mkwananzi becomes the second man to be charged with undermining authority of or insulting President Mnangagwa inside one month after ZRP officers arrested Alexander Samuel Chidzedzere of Kariba in Mashonaland West province early this month, and charged him with undermining authority or insulting President Mnangagwa after he alleged that the ruling ZANU PF party had won the 30 July harmonised elections through rigging.
Meanwhile, ZLHR lawyers on Saturday 27 October 2018 secured the release on bail of three Bulawayo men Marshal Sibanda, Welcome Moyo and Venat Ncube, who were arrested on Friday 26 October 2018 and charged with committing public violence as defined in section 36(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.
The trio was also charged with disrupting a public gathering as defined in section 44(a) Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 after they allegedly engaged in a disorderly and riotous conduct intending to disrupt the Commission of Inquiry proceedings.
Sibanda, Moyo and Ncube were granted $150 bail each and remanded to 13 November 2018 for commencement of their trial.