Zimbabwe: Carpenter Charged Over Mugabe Joke

A local carpenter from Dangamvura has been charged for allegedly undermining the authority of the President, after making a joke about Robert Mugabe last week.


Richmore Mashinga Jazi was watching live coverage of Mugabe's 88th birthday celebrations last Friday when he made the comments that led to his arrest. Jazi apparently suggested that the ageing ZANU PF leader must have had help blowing up his birthday balloons.


"Ko ndiani abatsira kufuridzira Mugabe zvibharuma zvebirthday rake, uye achiri nesimba racho here? (Who helped Mugabe blow up his birthday balloons, does he still have the energy?)," Jazi allegedly said.


He now faces possible prosecution at the Mutare magistrates court for "undermining the authority of the President." He appeared in court on Monday.


Mutare prosecutor Truman Joma alleges that Jazi 'insulted' Mugabe, telling the court on Monday that Jazi's comments "could cause hatred or contempt." He alleged that Jazi was mocking and insulting the ZANU PF leader by referring to his age and health.


Jazi has been released on US$20 bail and will be back in court on March 12th.


Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), which is representing Jazi, said the law is being abused to shield Mugabe from criticism.


"The use and abuse of insult laws is misdirected. That section is too vague and that is why it is being abused. There is rampant abuse of the insult law and it needs to be challenged in courts like ZLHR is doing," said Kumbirai Mafunda, ZLHR communications officer.


"The insult laws are intended to stop legitimate public criticism and debate around public figures on how they have delivered. With these widespread arrests, Zimbabweans are going to be scared to open their mouths," Mafunda said.


by Ale Bell 

Via AllAfrica

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