Mamombe freedom bid flops, court says MP has case to answer

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By Mary Taruvinga

MDC Harare West legislator, Joanah Mamombe’s bid to have her subversion charges quashed before remand were unsuccessful Tuesday after Harare magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa ruled that there was reasonable suspicion she committed an offence.

The 25-year-old lawmaker is accused of inciting members of her constituency to revolt against government for increasing prices of fuel in January this year.

She was seized by half a dozen detectives from her Nyanga hotel Saturday while attending a parliament workshop and was driven back, with claims she was not advised of her crime until she got to Harare.

Through her lawyer, Obey Shava of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Mamombe had challenged her arrest and detention arguing these were done in violation of her fundamental rights.

She was also up in arms with authorities for detaining her beyond the 48 hour period stipulated by the country’s laws.

But all came to naught Tuesday when Mugwagwa ruled that she had a case to answer.

The magistrate said the country’s youngest MP lied that she was not advised of her charges upon arrest.

“The Speaker (Jacob Mudenda) wouldn’t have allowed the police to take the accused away from the hotel if she had not been advised of her charge.

“In this case, the accused was at the courts before 48 hours had lapsed, only that the court was entertaining other cases.

“It was not practical to stop all cases because she had arrived…all accused persons have to enjoy the same right.

“A demand is exactly what it is. The accused cannot deny that she demanded that people should protest. Therefore, there is a reasonable suspicion that an offence was committed.

“The accused is therefore placed on remand,” she ruled.

Mamombe will be back in court on March 19 and was advised to apply for bail through the High Court since she was facing a serious offence.

She joins a growing list of MDC politicians and human rights defenders who have been charged with subverting a constitutional government.

Among some of the MPs who face the same offence are Gweru legislator Amos Chibaya as well as Kwekwe MPs Settlement Chikwinya and Lloyd Mukapiko.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition chair Rashid Mahiya, firebrand cleric Evan Mawarire, ZCTU president Peter Mutasa and his secretary general Japhet Moyo have also been charged with the offence.