Law protecting Mugabe from insults must stay - Zim vice president

2015-04-16 20:29
Emmerson Mnangagwa (File: AFP)

Emmerson Mnangagwa (File: AFP)

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Harare - A law that makes it a jailable offence to criticise Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is "reasonable" and must remain on the statute books, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was quoted as saying on Thursday.

Section 96 of the Criminal Code "seeks to guarantee the right to dignity", Mnangagwa said in legal papers quoted by the official Herald newspaper.

Dozens of locals have been arrested under the anti-insult laws.

The Constitutional Court ruled in 2014  that the laws should be struck off the statute books.

However, the ruling was judged to only apply to Zimbabwe's previous constitution, which was replaced at a referendum in March 2013.

Police have continued to arrest people for insulting Mugabe.

In one recent case, a man was arrested in December 2014 for "shouting unprintable words" about the president at a shopping centre in Chikombedzi, southern Zimbabwe.

A case was brought earlier this year by several journalists to have the laws declared unconstitutional in terms of the new constitution.

The Herald said that Mnangagwa, who is also Zimbabwe's justice minister, argued that the law "foster[s] responsible journalism" and must remain on the statute books.

Many Zimbabweans believe Mnangagwa, who became vice president in December, is now firmly in line to succeed Mugabe, although the president hinted in February that it was not necessarily the case.

Zimbabwean Twitter user @tmn263 said on Thursday: "VP Mnangagwa defends criminal defamation.... if he becomes prez we are doomed."

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  emmerson mnangagwa  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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