President Robert Mugabe’s last-born son and South African hip hop star Riky Rick dared Zimbabwean authorities on Saturday after flying into Harare from Johannesburg dressed in camouflage.
Chatunga Bellarmine and Riky Rick wore camouflage jackets on the same day that journalist Edmund Kudzayi appeared in court for being in possession of a camouflage umbrella.
Riky Rick, who also donned a camouflage cap, posted a picture of himself and Chatunga at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport where they were received by businessman and nightclub owner, Genius Kadungure.
The Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), in an apparent attempt to deflect criticism for human rights abuses including killings and rape blamed on soldiers since troops were deployed to quell unrest last month, claims non-military personal in camouflage are perpetrating the crimes.
The army warned on February 20 that it would conduct “snap searches for ZNA uniforms and other resembling clothing items”, while urging Zimbabweans to “voluntarily surrender these clothing items” at any police station or military barracks.
Section 32 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act criminalises unlawful possession and wearing of “any camouflage uniform.” It defines camouflage uniform as “any article of wearing apparel made of material carrying military-style camouflage markings.”
But lawyers said an umbrella for which former Sunday Mail editor Kudzayi was arrested does not fit the description of “wearing apparel” or “uniform”.
Legal commentator Alex Magaisa said: “I have looked at the statute and the charge is plain nonsense.”
Chatunga and Riky Rick appeared ready to test Zimbabwean authorities’ resolve, knowing their arrest would attract international headlines and shine a new light on the Zimbabwe government’s latest crackdown.
Riky Rick was in Zimbabwe for a performance at Kadungure’s Club Sankayi in Harare on Saturday night while across town Mafikizolo entertained guests at a party hosted for President Mugabe’s 95th birthday at his palatial Blue Roof residence.