No more arrests for Mugabe insults

Zimbabwe's highest court has scrapped a law against insulting the president that has been used to arrest opponents and critics of veteran leader Robert Mugabe, a court official said on Thursday.

In the last decade, dozens of dissidents have been arrested on charges of insulting the 89-year-old ruler. Some, including a leading opposition figure who called Mugabe a "tired donkey" ahead of elections this year, have been detained for weeks.

But the Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday that the offence of undermining the authority of the president and "communicating falsehoods" ran counter to the freedom of expression enshrined in the constitution introduced in March, a court official said.

"The Constitutional Court's ruling is that these provisions are not in line with basic rights of freedom of expression," said the official, who asked not to be named because the ruling has not yet been made public.

The minister of justice has until November 20 to appeal the ruling, the official added.


There was no immediate comment from the justice department.

Mugabe has been in power since the former Rhodesia's independence from Britain in 1980, although he has been accused of stealing elections through intimidation, violence and vote-rigging.

He has never commented directly on the "insult law", which was enacted when he became executive president in 1987. – Reuters

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Reuters
Guest Author

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

‘Terrorised’ family shines a light on traditional leadership for vulnerable...

The ambiguity between traditional and constitutional leadership has been exposed by the violent banishment of an Eastern Cape family

Matrics fail at critical subjects

The basic education minister talks of quality passes achieved by the class of 2020, but a closer look at the results tells a different story

More top stories

Zulu land body challenges audit outcome

Ingonyama Trust Board chairperson Jerome Ngwenya has challenged the audit process in the face of a series of unfavourable ratings

The many faces of Idi Amin

Was he a joke, an oaf, a hero, or the evil dictator the West loved to hate? Decades after his death, his legacy is still a puzzle.

Review: Volvo XC40 is never intimidating

When you’re asked to drive 400km on a business trip, it really helps if you don’t have to do it in an old skorokoro. In this Volvo, it becomes a road trip to rival others.

Aliens in Lagos: sci-fi novel Lagoon offers a bold new...

Nnedi Okorafor’s ‘Lagoon’ is an immersive reimagining of Nigerian society that transports us into a future where queerness is normalised
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…