War vets trial in false start
Tendai Rupapa Senior Court Reporter—
The trial of five Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) executive members accused of undermining the authority of President Mugabe failed to start yesterday after the State successfully sought a postponement.The matter will now be heard today.
Law officer Mr Tapiwa Kasema told court that he wanted to attend to his hospitalised wife.
However, lawyers representing Douglas Mahiya, Francis Nhando, Victor Matemadanda, Headman Moyo and Hoyini Samuel Bhila insisted that they wanted to plead, file their defence outline and except to the charge.
They were represented by Ms Beatrice Mtetwa, Messrs Harrison Nkomo and Andrew Makoni. The defence team told the court that they wanted to except to the charge on two bases.
They argued that the certificate of prosecution issued by the acting Prosecutor-General Advocate Ray Goba, was invalid; and that the charge their clients were facing failed to disclose the offence.
Mr Kasema said if the certificate was invalid the defence was indirectly saying the suspects were improperly before the court.
The matter had to be briefly adjourned after both parties failed to reach a consensus. Regional magistrate Mr Hoseah Mujaya engaged them in his chambers.
Mr Mujaya rolled over the matter to today.
Allegations against the five arose between April 2016 and July 2016.
They allegedly authored a document titled, “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 connivance with other high ranking national, provincial and district members still at large.
They allegedly made defamatory statements and undermined the authority of President Mugabe.
The State alleged that they created the communiqué with the knowledge and realisation that its contents could ignite feelings of hostility or cause hatred, contempt or ridicule towards President Mugabe.
On July 18, Mahiya held a meeting at Raylton Sports Club and issued the communiqué to a few journalists.
The document was 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 Mahiya’s house and copies of the communiqué were found.
Also retrieved at Mahiya’s house were documents titled “Response to the President’s attack on War Veterans”, which the State deemed to undermine the President’s authority.