By Tichaona Sibanda
1 June 2010
MDC provincial youth chairman for Mashonaland Central, Tonderai Samhu, appeared in court on Tuesday facing allegations of insulting Robert Mugabe.
The youth appeared before a Bindura magistrate, charged with undermining the office of the President and for organizing a political rally without police authority. His case was postponed to 1st July.
Samhu denies the charges and claims they are politically motivated and meant to prevent him from actively campaigning for the MDC party in the province. Police insist Samhu made derogatory remarks against Mugabe during a party rally in Guruve in April.
The outspoken youth chairman told us he was merely chanting a well known party slogan, routinely use during party gatherings. He said the slogan; ‘Mbavha bvisa (remove thieves), Mugabe bvisa (remove Mugabe), ZANU PF bvisa (remove ZANU PF) was not an insult, but a rallying call to remove Mugabe through the ballot box.
‘This is what we are campaigning for. We want to remove Mugabe and his ZANU PF party through the ballot box. We are campaigning vigorously in the province and are certain that out of the 18 parliamentary seats in Mashonaland central, we might be able to grab many in the next elections,’ Samhu said.
Currently the MDC only has two seats in the province while ZANU PF holds 16 seats.
Over the years, numerous people have been arrested, fined, beaten or jailed under the country’s draconian laws that make it an offence to make any alleged derogatory comment about Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state who has been in power for nearly 30 years.
Samhu added that there was a rule-of-law crisis in Zimbabwe where authorities protect ZANU PF activists whilst criminalising almost anyone from the MDC.
‘We are victims of serious political violence waged by ZANU PF against the MDC yet you always see the police going after victims and protecting the perpetrators who are well known in most of the cases,’ Samhu said.