HARARE: Zimbabwe’s top court has rebuked state prosecutors for abusing the country’s controversial insult laws by bringing frivolous cases against critics of veteran leader Robert Mugabe, rights lawyers said yesterday.
Constitutional Court judge Luke Malaba admonished prosecutors against “prosecuting matters in which statements were uttered in social places”, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said in a statement.
Dozens of cases, including one involving a university lecturer who was prosecuted for labelling Mugabe “a rotten old donkey”, have been heard in the country’s courts. Around 80 similar cases are still outstanding.
“The pursuit of such frivolous matters only serves to bring disrespect to the office of the president,” according to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
The judge made the comments in a ruling in a case brought by Tendai Danga, who challenged the constitutionality of the law after being arrested two years ago during an argument with a policeman. During the argument he said to the policeman: “Who is Mugabe?” The same judge on Wednesday scrapped a law used to arrest journalists on allegations of publishing false news deemed to endanger state security. AFP