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Magistrate says no reason to deny Grace hecklers their rights, frees quartet on bail

10/11/2017 00:00:00
by AFP
 
Booed ... Grace Mugabe
 
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A magistrate on Friday released on bail four people facing charges of undermining the authority of President Robert Mugabe after his powerful wife was jeered at a rally.

Three men and a woman were arrested after attending a ruling Zanu-PF party rally in the country's second city Bulawayo where Grace Mugabe was heckled while addressing the crowd on Saturday.

"There is no compelling reason for denying the accused their rights," said magistrate Franklin Mkhwananzi, ordering them back to court on November 24.

They were freed on $50 bail each and barred from attending a forthcoming presidential rally in Harare, whose date is yet to be announced.

According to The Herald newspaper, prosecutor Jerry Mutsindikwa had on Thursday told the court that "the quartet, with others allegedly sang the song 'into oyenzayo siyayizonda'" - whose lyrics in Ndebele mean "we hate what you are doing" - while Grace addressed the rally.

The incident angered Mugabe, 93, who addressed the rally shortly after his wife, accusing his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa of organising and sponsoring the hecklers.

He vowed to fire Mnangagwa, which he did two days later, in a dramatic move that appeared to open the way for his wife to succeed him in office.

Grace Mugabe could be appointed as one of the country's two vice presidents at the party congress next month.

Mnangagwa who had been touted as an obvious successor to Mugabe, fled into exile this week. His whereabouts are unknown.

The arrest of the four Zanu-PF activists came as the Zimbabwe high court on Thursday granted bail to Martha O'Donovan, a 25-year-old American journalist charged with insulting Mugabe and attempting to subvert the regime on account of an alleged tweet that described the ageing leader as "selfish and sick".



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