from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – A ZIMBABWEAN pro-democracy campaigner arrested about eight years ago has equated to persecution the failure by the state to prosecute her.
Tendai Lynette Mudehwe was arrested in 2015 when former president Robert Mugabe (now deceased) was reigning.
For the umpteenth time, the trial has failed to take off.
Mudehwe, the founder and coordinator of Zimbabwe Activists Alliance, has been appearing in court since her arrest in November 2015 for allegedly participating in an anti-government demonstration.
She was arrested under charges of “criminal nuisance” for defying the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
The activist was demonstrating against then Vice-President, Phelekezela Mphoko, for staying in a luxurious hotel at taxpayers’ expense.
Mudehwe entered Rainbow Towers during proceedings of the International Conference on AIDS and STI’s in Africa (ICASA), allegedly “with intent to cause annoyance or disturbance of public peace or realising that there was real risk or possibility that her conduct would cause annoyance or disturb peace to the public.”
Mphoko had not secured accommodation after returning to Zimbabwe, having served as the Ambassador to neighbouring South Africa.
Prosecutors alleged that Mudehwe started shouting and singing thereby disrupting the smooth flow of the conference.
The trial has never proceeded. Last week, she was advised that her docket was incomplete and hence she would not appear in court.
Her legal representative, Paidamoyo Saurombe, protested that the actions of prosecutors in continuously summoning Mudehwe to travel from the eastern border of Mutare to appear in the capital Harare, a distance of 263 km (163,4 miles) was improper.
The lawyer argued this amounted to persecution and would file an application for permanent stay of prosecution when the activist is next summoned to appear.
Mugabe, now late, ran Zimbabwe with an iron fist until his ouster in 2017, after 37 years at the helm.
Critics accuse his successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa of adopting a similar repressive approach.
– CAJ News