Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association secretary for information and publicity Douglas Mahiya (61) yesterday appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Court on charges of undermining the authority of the President.
Mahiya was remanded in custody to today for bail application.
BY MARY TARUVINGA
His lawyer Harrison Nkomo tried to have his client released saying there was no certificate of prosecution from the Prosecutor-General (PG) authorising Mahiya’s prosecution.
Nkomo’s application was, however, rejected after magistrate Vakai Chikwekwe ruled that lack of the certificate was just another legal defect.
Nkomo submitted that under chapter 3 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, it was imperative under section 34 for the prosecution to produce a certificate signed by the PG. Prosecutors Tapiwa Kasema and Sharon Fero argued that for purposes of placement on remand, the certificate was immaterial.
“There is no need to set aside remand, State is ordered to bring the certificate on Monday while other proceedings continue,” said Chikwekwe.
Nkomo also made a complaint against a Senior Assistant Commissioner Ncube from CID Law and Order Harare for verbally insulting Mahiya.
“He insulted the accused saying he was confused and disorderly to the extent that the disorderliness had extended to his children,” he said.
“The Senior Ass Comm added that the bedroom of the accused’s children was filthy and unsuitable for human habitation. The accused was interrogated from 3pm on July 27 to 2am July 28. Notwithstanding the availability of many detention centres, they detained him at Matapi Police Station which was condemned as unfit for human habitation.”
Nkomo added: “The alleged communiqué, which is the subject matter, was not retrieved through a diligent search, but was planted by the police for purposes of finding grounds to arrest him.”
Nkomo was initially barred from getting inside.
“I want the officer-in-charge of the Magistrates’ Court to submit a report and the Senior Ass Comm be investigated,” he said.
Mahiya’s duties are to communicate the association’s programmes and dissemination of any information that the association wants the members to know.
According to the State, between April 2016 and July 2016, Mahiya, acting in connivance with other high-ranking national, provincial and district members still at large, authored a document captioned War Veterans communiqué on the state of Zimbabwe’s economy, the Zanu PF leadership and the way forward for the people of Zimbabwe. The communiqué allegedly made defamatory statements thereby undermining the authority of President Robert Mugabe.
The State alleged that Mahiya created the communiqué with the knowledge and realisation that its contents might engender feelings of hostility or cause hatred, contempt or ridicule towards Mugabe.
The court heard that on July 18, Mahiya notified the regulating authority, Harare Central Police Station, of their intention to hold a meeting at Raylton Sports Club.
Two days later he sent WhatsApp messages inviting the top five from provincial and district executive members to attend the meeting.
The court heard they held the meeting the following day and Mahiya, being the first speaker, set the tone in line with the contents of the communiqué which contained words that insulted and undermined the authority of the President.
There was a heavy police presence at the courts and a number of war veterans attended the session.