MUTARE – MDC MP for Mutasa Central Trevor Saruwaka, who was accused of contravening the Public Order and Security Act (Posa), has been acquitted.
Mutare magistrate Nyasha Kuture ruled that charges against Saruwaka were fatally defective after his lawyer David Tandiri from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights applied for the dismissal of the case.
Saruwaka was accused of organising and leading villagers in a demonstration against politicisation of government aid without first notifying the police.
Tandiri successfully argued that the charge was not prosecutable.
“The charge sheet is fatally defective. Section 25 subsection 1 (a) of Posa does not create an offence, it simply creates an obligation on the part of the convener of a public gathering to give notice to the regulating authority but does not create an offence. It does not have any penal provision,” Tandiri said, adding that the charge sheet could not be amended because his client had since pleaded not guilty.
Tandiri also argued that the State had failed to name or allege the involvement of anyone else in the charge sheet to substantiate the claim that his client had contravened Posa.
He further stated that the charge sheet did not identify Saruwaka as a convener of any public demonstration.
Saruwaka was dragged to court on criminal charges after over 100 frustrated villagers allegedly barricaded Mutasa Grain Marketing Board Depot (GMB) and barred a truckload of fertiliser with police officers on board from leaving in protest against corruption and politicisation of government-financed drought relief and presidential farming inputs distribution.
The villagers were in a two-hour stand-off with GMB and government officials.
They only backed down after the district administrator Tendai Kapenzi attended to the scene.
They later handed Kapenzi a petition detailing the unfair distribution of the agricultural inputs.
The petition raised concern that government-financed agricultural inputs and food meant for vulnerable people in the communities were not reaching their intended beneficiaries as political functionaries had usurped their distribution from government agents and were “discriminating other needy people perceived to belong to political parties outside the governing party”.