HARARE – A mainstream MDC provincial executive who was arrested last week on insult charges for denigrating President Robert Mugabe at a funeral appeared in court yesterday.
Tsepiso Mpofu, the Bulawayo provincial organising secretary, popularly known as “Iron Lady” in the MDC circles, appeared before Magistrate Gladmore Mushowe facing charges of violating Section 33 of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act by publicly undermining the authority of the presidency.
Magistrate Mushowe granted her free bail and postponed the court hearing to December 4 for trial.
According to the state, Mpofu, who was attending the burial of a relative at West Park Cemetery in Bulawayo last Thursday is said to have shouted at a group of Zanu PF members who were also attending a separate burial; “Mugabe is sh** and has destroyed the country’s economy.”
The Zanu PF supporters reported the matter to police who arrested and detained Mpofu at Mzilikazi Police Station.
Speaking to the Daily News, Mpofu’s lawyer Kossam Ncube of Ncube and Partners said his client was just expressing her views.
“As I far as I know, she was expressing her views saying Mugabe is making people go hungry and he is not fulfilling his promises,” Ncube said.
Over the past years, several Zimbabweans have been arrested and arraigned before the courts countrywide for uttering words deemed to insult the president and that undermine the authority of Mugabe who has ruled the country for the past 33 years.
Tongai Matutu, former Masvingo Central Member of Parliament, was summoned to court in Gweru on a similar charge recently.
A Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) student, Honest Makasi was also arrested in Masvingo last week for allegedly calling Mugabe a dog because he was failing to fulfil his election campaign promises.
Last year Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), said it was worried by the rate at which State security agents were arresting citizens on charges of insulting Mugabe.
However, the Constitutional Court recently made a landmark ruling saying some sections of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act) were unconstitutional.