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Use of Mugabe toilet brings short-lived relief

When the call of nature comes, it cannot always be denied. Few have answered it in such an unfortunate fashion as Alois Mabhunu.

When the call of nature comes, it cannot always be denied. Few have answered it in such an unfortunate fashion as Alois Mabhunu.

While on duty at a trade fair, the Zimbabwean police sergeant simply could not hold on and allegedly dashed to the nearest toilet, disastrously, as it transpired, a toilet specially reserved for President Robert Mugabe.

Mabhunu’s relief was thus short-lived. He was arrested and languished in jail for two weeks on suspicion of invading the presidential privy. The incident happened at the annual Zimbabwe international trade fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo, according to local radio station VOP.

Under the headline “Never Use Toilet Reserved For President!” VOP’s website reported that Mabhunu was on duty at the ZITF grounds during the fair’s official opening by Mugabe and Jean-Louis Ekra, the president of Afreximbank.

“Mabhunu, due to the call of nature, rushed to the toilets reserved for Mugabe and his guest, Ekra, but was stopped by other officers guarding the toilets,” VOP said.

“Under intense pressure, the officer forced his way in and managed to relieve himself. He was arrested the following day, on May 7, after a report was made to Mugabe’s security men.”

Mabhunu, a murder detective, is in police detention at barracks on the outskirts of Bulawayo. Beatrice Mtetwa, one of Zimbabwe’s leading human rights lawyers, has challenged the legality of the case against him.

“There has to be a law saying the toilet is the president’s, but this was a public one,” she said. “They will have had to issue a proclamation in the Government Gazette specifying it. I bet they didn’t do that.”

Mugabe’s personal space and reputation as father of the independent nation is fiercely protected. Several motorists are said to have been assaulted by his security personnel for not giving way to the presidential motorcade.

Douglas Mwonzora, a leading member of the Movement for Democratic Change, was standing in court in March waiting for a magistrate to arrive, when he looked at a portrait of Mugabe and said: “How are you, father? How is your health?” There was mirth in the courtroom, but police subsequently charged Mwonzora with insulting the president, an offence punishable by up to a year in prison.

Another man will go on trial next month charged with posting an offensive message on Facebook. Vikas Mavhudzi allegedly wrote on Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s “wall”: “What happened in Egypt is sending shockwaves to all dictators around the world. No weapon but unity of purpose. Worth emulating, hey?”—

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