What Matters? – Voices from Community Human Rights Champions
The former Ugandan President Idi Amin Dada Ouemee is famous for the phrase, ‘Here in Uganda there is freedom of speech, but I cannot guarantee you freedom after speech’. By this, he meant that even though the constitution and the law might provide for freedom of expression he could not guarantee safety after exercising this right. This reflects the situation in Zimbabwe where despite the Constitutional Provision of Freedom of expression and freedom of the media, Section 61, the rights are being violated. Many scholars have argued that free speech and expression is the lifeblood of democracy and facilitates for an open society. In Zimbabwe many questions have been asked on how free expression can be enjoyed with the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act especially chapter 9:23 that talks of undermining the authority of the President hanging over our heads. If we cannot criticize our President how can we evaluate the fulfillment of the election manifestos that are thrown to the citizens during election time? In our #ZimbabweanLivesMatter Series, we are profiling Hither Rujeko who is currently on remand for expressing her opinion on governance on a whatsapp platform
Hither Rujeko Mupambwa: Arrested for Expressing herself
Hither Rujeko Mupambwa, 22, is admitted on bail after spending three days at Kariba Remand Prison. Her case resumes on the 10th of September 2020. Mupambwa is facing allegations of undermining authority and insulting the President as defined in Section 33 (1) (b) of Sub Section 2 (b) of the Criminal law and Reform Act Chapter 9:23. These charges emanate from her contribution critiquing the address of the nation by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on the 4th of August 2020 on a whatsapp group called Kariba Hard Talk. Hither is alleged to have responded to the Presidential address on the group saying ‘..dzikutosimbisa vision 2030 dzorwara idzi ngadzitonyarara hadzo about patriotism zvinoitisa hasha mbiti yemunhu, tofa tichiudzwa izvozvo musatanyokowako emasoni.’ It was reported that some group members shared the information to State Security agents as screen shots, which led to her arrest. On the 6th of August 2020, Hither was brought before Kariba Magistrate, Bianca Mahere. Her lawyer, Advocate Unit Saizi from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said Mupambwa was granted ZWL5000 bail on the 7th of August 2020.
Mupambwa a 3rd year student from NUST and currently on work related learning – is a young and aspiring leader and among other many young human rights activists who were arrested since the aborted July 31 protest.
Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and an indispensable element in the development and consolidation of a democratic society. Even the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) Article 19 states that all the people have the right to hold opinions without interference.
Mupambwa is an aspiring young woman, who wishes for a better Zimbabwe. Currently she holds the office of the MDC Alliance Student Council Secretary General. Her commitment to democracy and human rights has attracted the wrath of the state that is determined to silence her and ensure she does not enjoy the right to freely express herself. ZimRights reiterates that community voices matter and that freedom of expression should be upheld to promote a democratic Zimbabwe.
Kariba local leadership speaks on the arrest of Mupambwa:
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