Posted on December 16, 2004

Zimbabwean Held for Mugabe ‘Slur’

BBC News, Dec. 15

A Zimbabwean commuter who allegedly insulted President Robert Mugabe while arguing with his brother on a bus is to spend Christmas in jail as a result.

A security service agency overheard Arnold Tsunguma Bunya, 29, telling his brother not to be “thick-headed like Mugabe”, state-run media reported.

A Harare court remanded Mr Bunya in custody until 28 December.

If convicted of undermining or insulting the president’s authority, he may be jailed for up to five years.

Mr Bunya, who was arrested earlier this month, was not asked to enter a plea at the initial hearing and will appear in court again after Christmas.

Mr Bunya was allegedly unrepentant when challenged by an agent working for the Central Intelligence Organisation, the state-owned Herald newspaper reported.

Tough security laws enacted more than two years ago forbid insulting or undermining the authority of the president, an offence punishable by a fine or a jail term of up to five years.

A month ago, unemployed Douglas Suangweme was jailed for eight months after describing the president as “a dictator”, also while travelling on a bus.

The jail term was suspended on condition he complete 140 hours of community service and does not commit a similar offence in the next five years, the Associated Press news agency reported.