HARARE – The case in which activist pastor Patrick Mugadza is charged for predicting that President Robert Mugabe would die in October this year has been referred to Zimbabwe’s highest court.
Mugadza, a preacher in the tourist resort town of Kariba, told journalists in January that he had received a prophecy from God that Mugabe would die on October 17 this year.
A magistrate court hearing complaints filed against Mugadza referred the case to the Constitutional Court (Con-Court), the presiding magistrate Nomsa Sabarauta said.
Mugadza was arrested on January 16 by Zimbabwe Republic Police officers and charged with causing offence to persons of a particular race and religion in contravention of Section 42 (2) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 alternatively criminal nuisance as defined in Section 46 (2) (v) of the Third Schedule to the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.
Prosecutors claimed that Mugadza allegedly insulted the Christian religion and the African tradition by uttering words which are a taboo.
He had challenged his arrest and prosecution arguing the Criminal Code used to charge him was unconstitutional.
In the application, which was granted yesterday by Sabarauta, Mugadza wants the Con-Court to determine whether or not Section 42 (2) as read with Section 42(1) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23) is constitutionally invalid in that it violates the rights to dignity, equal protection and benefit of the law, freedom of conscience and freedom of expression as contained in Sections 51, 56 (1) and (3), 60(1)(a) and (b) and 61 (1)(a) of the Constitution.
Mugadza argues that Sections 42 and 46 of the Criminal Law Code are in violation of Sections 51, 56 (1) and (3), 60(1)(a) and (b) and 61 (1)(a) of the Constitution and are contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution.
The clergyman further argues that while the Constitution protects all manner of expression, these two provisions criminalise distinct forms of expression hence it is clear that Section 42 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act is a limitation on free expression.
The provisions, the Remnant Pentecostal Church leader argues, are not necessary in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, regional or town planning or the general public interest and are excessive in their limitation of the right and do not ensure enjoyment of any rights or freedoms by others.
Zimbabwean police often arrest political activists for insulting or undermining Mugabe’s office, but most of the cases have been dismissed by the courts.