BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Kuwadzana East legislator Chalton Hwende (MDC Alliance) yesterday filed an application challenging his arrest and remand, arguing that the tweet that got him in trouble with the State was his democratic right to freedom of expression.
Hwende, who was represented by Harrison Nkomo, told magistrate Learnmore Mapiye that he did not commit any offence, because he was simply exercising his constitutional right.
Nkomo told court that Hwende was not supposed to be placed on remand, as he did not coerce nor did anything unconstitutional to remove the government and that the legislator only encouraged people to stay at home advising them to avoid being shot outside their homes.
“The offence of trying to overthrow a constitutional government carries 20 years’ imprisonment and the papers that are before you, your worship, do not have the facts to the effect that the accused wanted to overthrow the government. Instead, the accused urged people to stay at home,” Nkomo said.
“In a democratic society, the courts guard against violating the dignity of its people. The papers before you do not even have an iota of a criminal offence and I pray that the accused be removed from remand.”
The State represented by Charles Muchemwa asked the court for time to respond to the defence’s application and magistrate Mapiye postponed the matter to today for the State’s response.
Allegations are that during December last year, Hwende, in his personal capacity and as an MP, posted on his Twitter handle messages that had the effect of inciting the people to revolt against the government.
It is alleged that Hwende’s tweets incited the public to overthrow the constitutionally elected government by engaging in mass protests, characterised by violence and hooliganism.
Hwende allegedly further indicated that 2019 was the year of rolling mass action against the regime of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, saying people voted for Nelson Chamisa and must be prepared like the thousands of gallant liberation struggle heroes to die defending their right to choose the president of choice, Chamisa.
The State further alleges that during the period between January 14 and 16, in response to Twitter messages by Hwende and other members of the opposition, various trade unions and pressure groups committed acts of public violence and hooliganism countrywide.