Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Gwisai acquitted in Mugabe ouster plot

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FORMER Highfield legislator Munyaradzi Gwisai and five other activists who were six years ago convicted for conspiring to commit public violence, with a view to remove former President Robert Mugabe from power, “the Egyptian way”, yesterday walked out of the High Court in high spirits after both their conviction and sentence were quashed.
BY CHARLES LAITON
The decision by High Court judges of appeal, Justices Charles Hungwe and Neville Wamambo followed an appeal by Gwisai, Hopewell Gumbo, Welcome Zimuto, Antoneta Choto, Tatenda Mombeyarara and Edson Chakuma who had been fined $500 each and ordered to perform 420 hours of community service by the late magistrate Kudakwashe Jarabini in March 2012.
The State had alleged the offence was committed on February 19, 2011at the Zimbabwe Labour Centre, at 43 Julius Nyerere Way in Harare where Gwisai works as co-ordinator of the International Socialist Organisation (ISO).
It was alleged his accomplices agreed to mobilise people to revolt against the government and demand the resignation of Mugabe in the manner Egyptians had deposed their president Hosni Mubarak.
The six labour activists, had been arrested by Mugabe’s regime during a meeting at which they were watching video footages of mass uprisings that had occurred in Egypt and Tunisia in 2011.
But, through their lawyer Alec Muchadehama the six had argued that presiding magistrate Jarabini erred in convicting them given that the evidence presented in court had not established the commission of the alleged offence.
However, when the matter was presented in court yesterday, Prosecutor-General (PG) representative Edmore Nyazamba, on behalf of the State, conceded that the State had no reason to oppose the six suspect’s grounds of appeal, a move that was applauded by the court.
Nyazamba told the court that the evidence that had been presented during the trial by the State’s star witness, one Detective Jonathan Shoko, did not establish conspiracy to commit a crime given that Shoko confirmed that when Gwisai and his colleague’s meeting was disrupted, they had not made any resolutions.
In their appeal, the suspects had also argued that the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings videos were shown to kill time but the magistrate had erred in holding that they were shown to arouse feelings of hostility.
After the quashing of the proceedings, Gwisai said justice had been done and the court had vindicated them.
“Today the court has vindicated us.
In November 2017, history vindicated what we stood for.
We still stand where we stood and affirm that the removal of Mugabe is not the removal of dictatorship.
We call on the people of Zimbabwe to finish what they started and confine this junta to the dustbin of history and never again should the people of Zimbabwe allow one man, family and party to ruin this country,” Gwisai said.
Gumbo said: “The quashing of the conviction is not a surprise.
Persecution is over but war against dictatorship is not over.
We remain in the trenches to fight for true democratic world.”