A ZIMBABWE Republic Police (ZRP) officer is currently on trial before his superiors for allegedly accusing President Robert Mugabe of being “too old to rule” the country and questioning the nonagenarian’s leader’s marriage choice.
Sergeant Thompson Joseph Mloyie of ZRP is undergoing a ZRP trial for allegedly contravening paragraph 35 of the Schedule of the Police Act (Chapter 11:10), that is, acting in an unbecoming or disorderly manner prejudicial to the good order or discipline or reasonably likely to bring discredit to the Police Force.
The ZRP accuses Mloyie of uttering the words: “President Mugabe achembera haachakwanisi kutonga nyika ino. Ndiye arikuonzera (sic) kutambura munyika ino uye akaroora hure Grace Mugabe,” which ZRP translated to mean “‘President Mugabe is old and incapable of leading this country. He is the cause of the suffering going on in this country and is married to a prostitute, Grace Mugabe.”
Mloyie, who is represented by David Hofisi of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) was arrested on Saturday 05 March 2016 and charged with contravening Section 33 (2) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 for undermining the authority of or insulting the President.
Prosecutors claimed that Mloyie uttered the words “President Robert Mugabe is too old to rule and married a prostitute Grace Mugabe.
While his trial is pending at Harare Magistrates Courts, ZRP has instituted a police trial before Superintendent Makunike.
Through his lawyer, Hofisi, of ZLHR, Mloyie has petitioned the Constitutional Court which on 14 November 2016 will determine a constitutional application filed by the ZRP officer, where he is contesting why low ranking officers do not have the option of being tried by a Magistrate for offences allegedly committed under the Police Act like higher ranking officers in ZRP.
Hofisi is arguing that Mloyie is entitled to enjoy the right to equal protection and benefit of the law as provided in the Constitution under Section 56 (1) and freedom of thought under Section 60 (1) and freedom of expression under Section 61 (1) of the Governance Carter.
Since 2010, ZLHR has attended to close to 200 cases where clients have fallen foul of this law and the bulk of the victims are residents and villagers residing in 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, on the basis that it infringes on freedom of expression, particularly of a public figure, and one who must be subjected to scrutiny as a political candidate.
In courts, the National Prosecuting Authority has in recent years and months been withdrawing charges against several suspects after declining prosecution and conceding before Constitutional Court judges that the allegations do not disclose the commission of an offence.
This would be after ZLHR would have petitioned the country’s apex court seeking orders challenging the constitutionality of the insult laws.