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Man gets suspended sentence for bad-mouthing Mugabe
Gambatz is the third person to appear for either insulting or denigrating the president
The New Year has not brought much good luck to a Zimbabwean businessman. He
was given a suspended jail sentence for bad-mouthing Robert Mugabe, the
president of that country.
Jason Gambatz (70) is a bitter man. After keeping his factory open the whole year while many businesses were shutting down, he got his workers back up when he refused to host a traditional Christmas party and pay the 13th cheque. His explanation to workers that Mugabe is mismanaging the economy, and in his words "printing useless money and disrupting business" is what took him to court.
Gambatz is too afraid to say a word, lest more trouble. He is the third person in just under two months to be sentenced for the same thing and this has raised new concerns over freedom of speech.
Sternford Moyo, the vice president of the Southern African Developing Community's (SADC) Lawyers' Association, says this is a festive season to remember for Gambatz. "For Jason, this will remain a festive season to remember. The man he would love to hate President Robert Mugabe is enjoying his Christmas and New Year in the Far East far removed from his personal ordeal in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital."
Mavis Chidzonga, a member of the Zanu(PF) National Consultative Assembly, has meanwhile come out in defense of the law against speaking ill about the president, saying insults or denigrations of the head of state do not pay. Mugabe, she added, has always been a tolerant man, but people tend to take their rights too far.