Fungai Lupande : Court Reporter
Four more Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association leaders appeared in court yesterday on allegations of undermining the authority of the President. They were released on $300 bail each. The four are the association’s national political commissar, Francis Nhando; secretary-general Victor Matemadanda, national vice chairman Headman Moyo and executive member for Harare province Hoyini Samuel Bhila.The quartet is represented by Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) members Ms Beatrice Mtetwa and Mr David Drury.
As part of their bail conditions magistrate Mr Vakayi Chikwekwe ordered the four to reside at their given addresses pending finalisation of the matter.
Nhando was ordered to report at CID Chiredzi, Matemadanda at CID Gokwe South, Bhila at CID law and Order Harare and Moyo at ZRP Lupane.They will report twice a week on Mondays and Fridays.
The matter was remanded to September 5.
Ms Mtetwa gave notice to challenge placement on remand saying the facts do not constitute an offence.
“Even if they constitute an offence, the facts do not connect the accused to the offence,” she said. “It is an abuse of the pretrial incarceration period of 48 hours to unnecessarily detain the accused when they can be taken to court.
“Nhando and Matemadanda were taken in custody on Monday and their warned and cautioned statements were recorded that same day.
“The police had no dealings with them yesterday (Tuesday) and they should have appeared in court then.
“The right to liberty means necessary and minimum pretrial incarceration. It is a breach of the Constitution to keep the accused for the fun of it.”
Ms Mtetwa added that she will challenge restrictions by police in accessing her clients at police stations.
“The accused were detained at different police stations – Highlands, Rhodesville, Avondale and Braeside,” said Ms Mtetwa.
“These stations demanded that a lawyer be accompanied by a police officer from CID Law and Order yet they didn’t have the manpower or resources.”
Ms Mtetwa added that there was no need to arrest the accused when they surrendered themselves.
“On the next remand date State has to show why they detained the four when they surrendered themselves.
“The Form 242 was withheld from defence meaning we could not take instructions on issues of bail. This is an infringement to the accused’s right to representation.
“Rights of war veterans as enshrined on Section 84 of the Constitution are being infringed. If war veterans exercise their rights it is now an offence.
“The person who signed the certificate to prosecute is an acting Prosecutor-General who has not been appointed in terms of the Constitution it means there is no certificate before you.”
The prosecutor, Mr Tapiwa Kasema, alleged that between April 2016 and July 2016 Matemadanda, acting in connivance with other high-ranking nationals, provincial and district members still at large, authored a document captioned “War Veterans communiqué” on the state of Zimbabwe’s economy, the ZANU-PF party leadership and the way forward for the people of Zimbabwe in which they allegedly made defamatory statements thereby undermining the authority of President Mugabe.
The State alleged that the quartet created the communiqué with the knowledge and realisation that the contents thereof might engender the feelings of hostility or cause hatred, contempt or ridicule towards President Mugabe.
The court heard that on July 20 Matemadanda sent WhatsApp messages inviting the top five from provincial and district executives to the meeting.
The meeting was held on July 21 at Raylton Sports Club and the communiqué was issued to a few journalists leading to the document being published in NewsDay and on the Internet.
It is alleged that in an interview with an SABC reporter, Matemadanda also denigrated the President. On July, 27 a search was conducted at the accused’s residence and copies of the communiqué were found as well as documents titled “Response to the President’s Attack on War Veterans”, which also undermined the President’s authority.