War vets disown communiqué
Fungai Lupande Court Reporter
Five Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) executive members yesterday said a communiqué denigrating President Mugabe which they are accused of writing could not be attributed to any one of them because it was a typed document without their signatures.
The group, however, stated that even if the communiqué was attributed to them, which they deny, they saw nothing wrong in it.
They said they were entitled to support or challenge policies of Government or any political party or cause.
Douglas Mahiya, Francis Nhando, Victor Matemadanda, Headman Moyo and Hoyini Samuel Bhila – all represented by Ms Beatrice Mtetwa – challenged their placement on remand.
“The typed document had no hand- written notes on it. The police claimed to have another document with some hand- written notes,” said Ms Mtetwa.
“Accused’s handwriting samples were required to be used for comparison but none of them was shown the notes or were warned and cautioned about it and the handwritten notes are not mentioned in fact,” she said.
“The document relied upon by State is not signed and there is no nexus between the document and the accused.
“The communiqué is available on the social media making its authorship and ownership complicated.”
Ms Mtetwa, however, said it was inconsistent with Section 84 of the Constitution to prosecute accused for demanding their rights.
“Even if the accused had in fact crafted and disseminated the document, which they deny, there would be nothing wrong with this,” she said.
“It would be exercising the right they have, to demand the enforcement of constitutionally guaranteed rights such as freedom of expression.
“The fact that those in power might not like messages communicated in the document does not in any way criminalise the document,” said Ms Mtetwa.
“The statement falls within the realm of political rights enjoyed in terms of Section 67 (2) (d) of the Constitution.
“It is not an offence to criticise the Government of the day (and) spelling out where the President and his Cabinet have failed. It is certainly not an offence to criticise the leadership of the President of Zanu-PF.”
The five are facing charges of undermining the authority of the President.
The matter was remanded to September 13.
Meanwhile, Mr Mtetwa applied to have her clients’ reporting conditions relaxed.
“Three of the accused stay out of Harare and they travel each remand hearing. Expenses are extremely high and with their small pensions it is unaffordable,” she said.
The accused were ordered to report twice a week and Mr Kasema opposed accused’s request to have the reporting conditions suspended.
The magistrate, Ms Bianca Makwande, will make a ruling pertaining to the bail request today.