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Lawyers meet over Government’s abuse of law

By Wisdom Mumera
The Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) has convened an Extra Ordinary Meeting this week in the aftermath of a seeming government conspiracy to abuse the legal processes in its alleged purge of the opposition camp following the shutdown protests.
Legislators that have been arrested so far include Amos Chibaya (Mkoba), Settlement Chikwinya (Mbizo), Winnie Kankuni (Sunningdale), Lloyd Mukapiko (Redcliff), Rusty Markham (Harare North) and Livingston Chimina (Chiwundura).
Several others including leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Tabitha Khumalo, Godfrey Sithole (Chitungwiza North), Job Sikhala (Zengeza West), Maxwell Mavhunga (Chitungwiza South), Charlton Hwende (Kuwadzana East), Happymore Chidziva (Highfield West), Joana Mamombe (Harare West) and Mashonaland West Senator Voice Chinake, have gone into hiding lately.
Pro-opposition activists like Pastor Evan Mawarire and ZCTU leaders have also been arrested.
The lawyers are however contending that the handling of the cases of those arrested including ordinary demonstrators has been wrong in a uniform manner that raises suspicion of there being a conspiracy to abuse the legal recourse by the government to punish the accused.
“Whereas Council considered the state of the rule of law in the country, in particular, the events occurring at the courts and whereas in terms of By-Law 10 of the Law Society of Zimbabwe By-Laws 1982, the Council has resolved that this is a matter of urgency, justifying calling a meeting on short notice,” it said in a statement.
Speaking at the Magistrate Court last week after the denial of bail for Mawarire (Evan) prominent human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said there is definitely something fishy.
“As lawyers, we are asking ourselves whether actually we are aiding and abetting the system by giving it respectability.
“Our presence makes it seem like there’s actually rule of law in Zimbabwe when everything that is happening shows there’s an orchestrated deliberate attempt to deny anyone associated with the shutdown their basic rights.
“If a magistrates court is behaving the way it’s doing, where do you think our people will get justice? How many people can afford to go to the High Court? What this means is that the majority of our people are being denied justice,” she said.
Unverified claims have stated the existence of a government directive to magistrates for the sentencing of arrested victims to jail sentences irrespective of the amount of, or lack thereof, the evidence proffered as a way of deterring further protests.
According to experts, the legal victimization pattern includes blanket denial to hear bail applications of the detained and where they are heard, blanket and a thoughtless refusal of bail; fast-tracking trials and denial of preparation; a false semblance of judicial process and failure to observe rights of the detained some of whom have spent three days without eating.

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Daniel Chigundu

Daniel Chigundu is a male journalist in Zimbabwe and has been practising since September 2009. He used to the editor for The Business Connect (newspaper) in Harare, has his own news website Tourism Focus which is biased towards the tourism sector. Daniel is also working with Magamba Network on their project called Open Parliament where they do live coverage of Parliamentary activities on Twitter and Facebook. He is currently the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Journalists Forum, is a member of Zimbabwe Small Broadcasters Association and a board member of Digital Communication Network. He holds a Diploma in Communication and Journalism from the Christian College of Southern Africa (CCOSA), a certificate in Youth leadership training from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a certificate in Citizen Journalism from Magamba Network and is currently a first-year student at Zimbabwe Open University studying for a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Ethics and Organisational Leadership.

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