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Zimbabweans Appear in Court for Allegedly Insulting Mugabe

FILE: President Robert Mugabe waits to address crowds gathered for Zimbabwe's Heroes Day commemorations in Harare, August 10, 2015.

Opposition party activists, Naison Mudzuri and Polite Zambezi, an employee of the state-run National Railways of Zimbabwe are facing renewed charges of allegedly insulting President Robert Mugabe, a couple of years after the offenses were committed.

Mudzuri, who was represented by Blessing Nyamaropa of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, appeared in court Tuesday in Masvingo province facing charges of undermining the authority of or insulting President Mugabe in 2013.

He allegedly contravened Section 33 (b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

According to state prosecutors, Mudzuri, who was first arrested and charged on September 9th, 2013 before he was removed from remand and only to be summoned to stand trial recently, allegedly passed some unpalatable statements about the Zimbabwean leader.

He allegedly blamed Mr. Mugabe for presiding over the collapse of the once prosperous southern African country.

The magistrate, who presided over the matter, reserved ruling on Mudzuri’s objection.

Zambezi will appear in court at Mwenezi Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday after he was summoned to stand trial on charges of contravening the same law.

Zambezi was first arrested on November 24, 2012 while aboard a commuter omnibus after he allegedly composed and chanted a song with the lyrics “Mugabe will be hanged like Saddam”.

Saddam Hussein was a secularist, who rose through the Baath political party to assume a dictatorial presidency. Under his rule, segments of the populace allegedly enjoyed the benefits of oil wealth, while those in opposition faced torture and execution. After military conflicts with United States-led armed forces, Hussein was captured in 2003. He was later executed.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights spokesman Kumbirai Mafunda told VOA Studio 7 they view the renewal of these cases as a crackdown on dissenting voices.

“We feel that this is just a continued clampdown on dissent in Zimbabwe, we have noted the rising cases of people being arrested, charged and prosecuted for allegedly undermining the authority or insulting the president since 2010,” said Mafunda.

Mafunda said they will continue working with parliamentarians to make sure that the laws are changed or aligned with the new constitution.

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