A Zanu PF member in Manicaland will spend the weekend behind bars after for allegedly saying former president Robert Mugabe was better than President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Malcom Masarira, a former Makoni Zanu PF ward 14 chairperson, was arrested on Friday after he allegedly posted a message on the ruling party’s WhatsApp group, saying people have lost confidence in Mnangagwa’s leadership.
According to the state outline, Masarira posted the message on August 5.
“The accused person posted a defamatory message on a Zanu PF WhatsApp group called “Zanu PF Election Indaba” by posting messages that insult the president and words quoted: “people are suffering out there,” it says.
“People have lost confidence in the party because they feel neglected.
“I remember the genius Robert Mugabe during the time of youth interface rallies.
“The accused person insulted the president by comparing him with the late former president, that is to say; the current president is performing below par.”
Mutare businessman and Zanu PF central committee member Esau Mupfumi is the complainant in the case.
Masarira is charged with violating Section 95 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23).
Human rights lawyers have in the past challenged the constitutionality of the law, saying it infringes on freedom of expression, particularly of a public figure.
The Constitutional Court in 2013 scrapped the controversial insult law, saying it breaches people’s rights.
In the ruling, the nine judges said prosecutors should not be overzealous about charging people, who commented about Mugabe “in drinking halls and other social places.”
The judges said the Criminal Codification and Reform Act, which says a person could be jailed for up to a year for insulting the president’s office, undermined freedom of expression.
Tens of people have been charged for insulting Mnangagwa since he came into power following a coup that toppled Mugabe in 2017.
Mnangagwa was Justice minister when the Constitutional Court ruled that the section of the Code was unconstitutional.
— The Standard