‘Outlawing Section 121 Of The Criminal Law Has Dented Mugabe’s Iron Amour’

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe (91), now in his sunset years after over half a century at the helm of the ruling party and almost three decades as Zimbabwe’s only iron fisted ruler “appears to be losing his tools of oppression”.

With successive Constitutional Court (ConCourt) orders declaring large swaths of the loathed Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) ultra-vires the Constitution, last week’s landmark ruling by the apex court to outlaw the obnoxious Section 121 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Code) was a dent into the ironman’s armour.

The Code, as it is commonly known, is an upgrade of Rhodesia’s equally notorious Law and Order Maintenance Act (Loma) and has been used by Mugabe’s regime, particularly Section 121, which provided for further detention of political opponents even after the courts would have granted them bail.

In June, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku ruled that criminal defamation laws were unconstitutional.

However, a prominent constitutional lawyer, who declined to be identified, warned against pre-mature celebration over the recent ConCourt rulings.

“We need to be guarded in how we view this even though these are progressive judgements. The ConCourt is not as progressive as we would want it to be. These judges have not issued an order that really rocks Zanu-PF. Most of these, if anything, are cosmetic,” he said.

“[Justice] Chidyausiku has unfinished business, his major assignment will come once Mugabe is gone; to declare who will be president because while the Constitution says within 90 days the party in government has to choose a successor, it does not specify how. It will only need someone in Zanu-PF to submit a counter-name then all hell will break loose and Justice Chidyausiku will then have to play kingmaker.”

While issuing the latest order, Justice Chidyausiku ripped into the State for abusing the controversial Section 121.

“You derive pleasure in keeping the person in custody for that. It is more sadistic than legal. On what legal basis is a person denied his liberty for seven days? Prison is not a five-star hotel. Surely, your sense of justice should make you think it’s untenable,” the Chief Justice charged at National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)’s Edmore Makoto before declaring the section illegal.

The section empowered the NPA and the police to revoke bail granted by magistrates in matters involving mostly opposition parties and other people perceived to be anti-establishment.Source – the standard

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