A prison officer, who allegedly wished that President Emmerson Mnangagwa and some traditional leaders that knelt before Mbuya Nehanda’s statue should go mad, appeared before a disciplinary committee on Friday.
According to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), the matter is being handled by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS).
Peter Kudzai Mushonga (29), who is represented by the ZLHR’s Kudzai Choga, faces charges of contravening Section 3(1) of the Prisons (Staff) (Discipline) Regulations for allegedly using traitorous or disloyal words regarding Mnangagwa and his government.
ZPCS is also accusing Mushonga of being guilty of an act, conduct, disorder or neglect of duty to the prejudice of good order or discipline as defined in Section 46 of the Prisons (Staff) (Discipline) Regulations.
According to ZPCS, Mushonga insulted Mnangagwa and some traditional leaders, who were paying their respect to the statue of Mbuya Nehanda on May 25, 2021, by commenting on his Facebook page the following day wishing that “those people kneeling before the statue could go mad.
Mnangagwa presided over the unveiling of a towering statue in central Harare on May 25, honoring Mbuya Nehanda, a 19th century anti-colonialist heroine and spirit medium, who was hanged by colonialists for leading a rebellion against white occupation while some traditional leaders knelt down before the statue and performed some traditional rituals.
In the previous disciplinary hearing proceedings, ZPCS brought in three witnesses who are all prison officers to testify against Mushonga, who denied the charge and argued that his Facebook account was hacked.
The prison officer has already appeared at Chinhoyi Magistrates Court facing charges of undermining the authority of or insulting President Mnangagwa.
Mushonga is the latest prison guard to be hauled before a disciplinary hearing facing charges of being a traitor and being disloyal to Mnangagwa.
In 2018, ZPCS charged John Mahlabera, a 36 year-old prison officer in Chiredzi with insulting Mnangagwa through posting some political comments on social media.
The ZILHR says Mahlabera allegedly posted a message on micro blogging site, Twitter, which read; “Come to Chiredzi my president”. The ZPCS said Mahlabera posted the message following an opposition Movement for Democratic Change political party rally that was held at Jerera Growth Point in Zaka in Masvingo province, which was addressed by opposition party leader Nelson Chamisa.
ZPCS said by posting such a message on Twitter, Mahlabera showed loyalty to Chamisa and disloyalty to President Mnangagwa. The ZPCS charged that Mahlabera’s conduct was disgraceful to Mnangagwa and the prison officer had no right whatsoever to act in the manner he did.
Meanwhile, Chinhoyi magistrate, Tapiwa Banda, on Wednesday set free three people by removing them from remand on charges of contravening national lockdown for allegedly taking part in an illegal gathering.
Emmanuel Chinanzvavana, Aldini Wairesi and Daniel Hove, who are opposition MDC Alliance party members and were represented by Tinomuda Shoko and Paidamoyo Saurombe of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, were arrested March 27, 2021, in Mutorashanga and charged with contravening Section 5(3)(a) of the Public Health COVID-19 Prevention, Containment, Treatment (National, Lockdown) Consolidation, Containment Amendment Order 2020.
According to the ZLHR, prosecutors alleged that Chinanzvavana, Wairesi and Hove, who are out of custody on RTGS$10 000 bail each, partook or convened an unlawful gathering of people numbering about 100 at a residential place knowing that such a gathering is prohibited.
On Wednesday, Chinanzvavana, Wairesi and Hove were removed from remand by Banda after two state witnesses Francis Kapuyanyika and Abel Mushipe, once again failed to appear in court for the trial to commence.
This resulted in warrants of arrest being issued against the two law enforcement agents.
Prosecutors were advised to proceed by issuing summons to compel the trio to return to court if they intend to proceed with prosecuting them.