By Tarisai Machakaire
A Harare court yesterday ordered ex-war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda, who is being charged with undermining the authority of President Robert Mugabe, to return to court on May 31.
Sibanda was arrested in November 2014 after accusing the soon-to-be 93 years old leader of plotting “a bedroom coup” by propping his wife, Grace, to take a top position in the governing Zanu PF while side-lining senior party officials.
He also allegedly threatened to march to the State House, Mugabe’s official residency, to confront the nonagenarian over his grievances.
Sibanda, who appeared before magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa, has approached the Constitutional Court(Con-Court), arguing the charge was ultra vires his constitutional right to freedom of expression, also challenging the constitutionality of Section 33 (2) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act he was being charged under for criminal insult.
The lower courts cannot proceed with the case until it is finalised in the Con-Court, which reserved ruling last June.
Sibanda made his first court appearance in February 2014 ahead of Zanu PF’s congress.
He was subsequently barred from going to the congress, mobilise anyone to march to any State institutions, ordered to reside at his given address and surrender his passport as part of bail conditions.
In his Con-Court challenge, Sibanda argued that the charge by the State has the effect of infringing on his rights and freedom, which rights have been deemed fundamental by the Constitution.
“Every person has the right, at law, to seek, receive and communicate ideas and other information,” he argued.
Allegations against Sibanda rose on October 27, 2014 at Hebert Mine in Mutasa.
He allegedly delivered a lengthy speech alleging that Mugabe and his wife Grace were planning topple the then Vice President Joice Mujuru and replace her with the first lady.
According to State papers, Sibanda further said he was not prepared for such an arrangement because “power is not sexually transmitted”.
Sibanda voiced the unease of many in Zanu PF and Mugabe retaliated by claiming that the ex-war vets leader was possessed by the “spirit of Beelzebub”. Daily News