By Tatenda Dewa | Harare Bureau |
A Chinese national, Weidong Li (28), was on Monday slapped with a $20 fine for selling the Zimbabwean flag without authority.
The Zimbabwean flag became a symbol of resistance to President Robert Mugabe’s government from April when a now self-exiled pastor, Evan Mawarire, used his #ThisFlag campaign to mobilise citizens to protest against mounting poverty, corruption and bad governance.
Government then invoked sections of the Flag of Zimbabwe Act to criminalise abusing the flag by donning it during public protests.
Lawmakers were also barred from draping the flag in the house and a Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) MP, Trevor Saruwaka, was in early October stopped from joining the traditional procession during the opening of parliament for wearing a jacket with flag colours.
There are no other known cases of citizens being arrested for selling flags, a practice that was common during soccer and cricket matches.
Li, a businessman, operates from the downtown Gulf Complex in Harare and had imported the flags from China.
It is not clear, though, if Li had declared them to customs as goods for sale.
Harare magistrate, Tendai Mahwe told the court that Li was a first offender who had shown contrition by admitting to the offence at the beginning.
“You bought the flags in China and you were selling them for a profit. The moral blameworthiness is low and I will take into consideration that you will lose your flags. They are forfeited to the State,” said Mahwe.
Francesca Mukumbiri, on behalf of the State, said police detectives arrested Li on 21 October when they raided his shop and recovered 314 flags that were later forfeited.
Mukumbiri added that Li was not supposed to sell the flags without asking for permission in terms of Section 5 of the Flag of Zimbabwe Act that provides for the regulation, control, restriction or prohibition of the importation, manufacture, sale, loan, use, possession, wearing or display of the flag. Nehanda Radio