Zim court scraps controversial Mugabe insult law
31 October 2013, 21:14
Harare - Zimbabwe's highest court has scrapped a law against
insulting the president that has been used to arrest opponents and critics of
veteran leader Robert Mugabe, a court official said on Thursday.
In the last decade dozens of dissidents have been arrested
on charges of insulting the 89-year-old ruler. Some, including a leading
opposition figure who called Mugabe a "tired donkey" ahead of
elections this year, have been detained for weeks.
However, the Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday that
the offence of undermining the authority of the president and
"communicating falsehoods" ran counter to the freedom of expression
enshrined in a constitution introduced in March, a court official told Reuters.
"The Constitutional Court's ruling is that these
provisions are not in line with basic rights of freedom of expression,"
said the official, who asked not to be named because the ruling has not yet
been made public.
The Minister of Justice has until 20 November to appeal the
ruling, the official added.
There was no immediate comment from the Justice Department.
Mugabe has been in power since the former Rhodesia's
independence from Britain in 1980, although he has been accused of stealing
elections through intimidation, violence and vote-rigging.
He has never commented directly on the "insult
law", which was enacted when he became executive president in 1987.