Govt staffer says Bob a burden, arrested

Govt staffer says Bob a burden, arrested – NewZimbabwe 04/04/2016

A NYANGA man is in trouble with the law for allegedly circulating a message on social media accusing President Robert Mugabe of being a burden to the country.

Ernest Matsapa, 46, of Matsapa village, Chief Hata in the mountainous district, will stand trial at the Nyanga Magistrates Courts this April 29 for allegedly being a “criminal nuisance”.

The state alleges the livestock specialist with the country’s agriculture ministry circulated the audio and visual message on a WhatsApp group called Nyanga Free Range, of which he is a member.

Police see Matsapa’s actions as a violation of Section 46 (2) (v) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.

The audio and visual clip, it is further alleged, sought to portray President Mugabe as incapacitated, an allegation the state says was likely to interfere with the “ordinary comfort, convenience, peace or quiet of the public”.

Matsapa is among an ever increasing number of Zimbabweans who have found themselves being targeted for alleged Mugabe insults verbally or via social media.

Police in Bindura February this year arrested Shamva Primary School head Edson Chuwe and two staffers for allegedly undermining authority of or insulting President Mugabe.

The three school authorities were accused of mocking President Mugabe after they purportedly posted satirical pictures of the Zanu PF party leader on Facebook.

Police claimed that the trio had “doctored” some degrading photographs of President Mugabe using the school computer and had shared a message through WhatsApp, which read; “Mr President isn’t it time to bid farewell to the people of Zimbabwe”.

During the same time, police also arrested one Fredy Munemo, a former policeman for allegedly claiming Mugabe has gone insane and was now incapable of solving the country’s myriad problems.

For that, he was charged with insulting the country’s long time ruler and his wife Grace in contravention of Section 41 (b) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.

More than 150 arrested

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights group has in recent years, noted a dramatic increase in the prosecution of citizens accused of “insulting or undermining the authority of the President”.

The human rights organisation says it has recorded close to 150 cases in which clients have fallen foul of the controversial law with the bulk of the victims hailing from the politically volatile Mashonaland Central province.

ZLHR has challenged the constitutionality of Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23) on several occasions insisting it violated freedom of expression, particularly of a public figure, and one who must be subjected to scrutiny as a political candidate.

Addressing party supporters as he returned from a five-day state visit to Japan Saturday, President Mugabe hinted at plans to introduce more stringent monitoring of the internet and other social media platforms in attempts to reduce the abuse of the technology by Zimbabweans.

Mugabe cautioned that the latest communication technology was also being abused by many to attack each other.

“There is a lot of filth in it (social media). There are a lot of serious insults peddled in there. A lot of abuses; some are now using it in negative ways.

“It is widespread,” Mugabe said, adding that his government would consider going the Chinese way to curb social media abuse.

“China set up security measures and we will soon look into how they are administering it so that the abuses and insults can be reduced.”