Fungai Lupande: Court Reporter
Five Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) executive members accused of denigrating President Mugabe had their bail conditions relaxed from reporting to the police twice a week to once a fortnight.The group applied to have the reporting conditions relaxed citing exorbitant expenses to travel from Gokwe, Chiredzi and Lupane where they stay.Harare magistrate Mr Bianca Makwande granted the application saying there was need to strike a balance between the court’s and accused’s interest. She ordered Douglas Mahiya, Francis Nhando, Victor Matemadanda, Headman Moyo and Hoyini Samuel Bhila to report once a fortnight on Fridays at their nearest police stations.
The five, who are facing charges of undermining the authority of the President, challenged their being on remand.
In their application challenging remand, the five said the communiqué they are accused of authoring falls within the realm of political rights enjoyed in terms of Section 67 (2)(d) of the Constitution.
They said the person mentioned in the communiqué has not challenged the contents there-off.
“This communiqué, which was not authored by the accused, is merely a challenge by the authors to the governance of the country,” they said.
“The authors complained of the perceived erosion of the values of the liberation struggle, the neglect of the masses who are suffering and the persecution, decimation and expulsion of war veterans.
“They sign off by withdrawing their support for ‘a leader who has presided over untold suffering of the general population . . .’”
The prosecutor Mr Tapiwa Kasema alleged that between April 2016 and July 2016 Mahiya, Nhando, Matemadanda, Moyo and Bhila acting in connivance with other high ranking national, 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 they created the communiqué with the knowledge and realisation that the contents of it may endanger the feelings of hostility or cause hatred, contempt or ridicule towards President Mugabe.
On July 18, Mahiya held a meeting at Raylton Sports Club in Harare and issued the communiqué to a few journalists leading to the document being published in NewsDay and on the internet.
It is alleged that in an interview with a SABC reporter Matemadanda also denigrated President Mugabe.
On July 27, a search was conducted at Mahiya’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.