MDC Kuwadzana East MP Charlton Hwende yesterday challenged his further placement on remand on charges of attempting to overthrow the government.
Hwende, who is represented by Harare lawyer Harrison Nkomo, lodged the application on the basis that the Form 242 placed before the court does not warrant him to be on remand. The Form 242 is a document outlining the alleged offence.
Nkomo argued that the Form 242 does not disclose any offence as it does not reveal how Hwende incited Zimbabweans to overthrow the Emmerson Mnangagwa government. “’Unconstitutional means consists of coercion. The State is alleging that there was a call by the accused person in his capacity as Kuwadzana East MP to completely shut down Zimbabwe by staying at home. On what basis does this become an offence?” Nkomo queried.
The lawyer said Zimbabwe subscribes to a constitutional democracy and that his client “simply exercised his rights as a politician.”
He accused the State of being overzealous.
“As a judicial officer, you Your Worship have the mandate to ensure that the rights of the accused person are not being taken away and you cannot just rubber stamp whatever the State places before you,” Nkomo submitted.
Magistrate Learnmore Mapiye remanded the matter to today to allow the State time to respond to the application. Allegations are that between December 28 and 31 last year, Hwende allegedly posted on his Twitter handle messages that could incite people to revolt against the government. It is alleged that Hwende’s posts encouraged people to engage in mass protests and hooliganism.
According to the State, Hwende allegedly wrote that “2019 should be the year of the final push to a new Zimbabwe.” “We cannot continue on this trajectory of failure and kwashiorkor of leadership. Enough is enough. In January citizens must organise themselves for a complete shutdown of the country.
“Stay at home no one will shoot you…2019 is the year of rolling mass action against the illegal regime of @edmnangagwa.
“We voted for @nelsonchamisa and we must be prepared like the thousands of gallant liberation struggle heroes to die defending our right to choose the president of our choice #2019Chamisamuoffice.”
The court heard that between January 14 and 16, 2019 and allegedly in response to Hwende’s exhortations, members of the opposition, various trade unionists, pressure groups, youth forums and members of the public engaged in violent protests across the country.
As a result, property was destroyed, lives were lost, several police officers and members of the public were also injured.