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MMPZ staffers granted appeal for referral to Supreme Court

MISA Zimbabwe Alert Update

8 February 2012

MMPZ staffers granted appeal for referral to Supreme Court

 

Gwanda magistrate Sheila Nazombe on 7 February 2012 granted an application for referral to the Supreme Court by Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) staffers challenging the constitutionality of section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

 

The application was filed by Kossam Ncube who is representing Molly Chimhanda, Fadzai December and Gilbert Mabusa.

 

The trio are being charged under Section 33 which outlaws undermining the authority of or insulting the President. However, Ncube argued that the section muzzles the public from making candid and hard hitting criticism of the president's performance when he is a public figure whose performance is subject to public scrutiny.

 

In her ruling, the magistrate said refusal to have the matter referred to the Supreme Court would be tantamount to denying them access to the highest court in the land and would be a violation of their right to protection of the law.

Background

The trio were arrested in connection with a community meeting on public information rights held on 24 November 2011 in Gwanda and remanded   in custody until 16 December 2012 when High Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi ordered their release.

 

They were initially being charged under Section 25 of the Public Order and Security Act which criminalises the organising of a gathering without notifying the police as well as section 37 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act which outlaws distribution of materials likely to breach peace.

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