BUBI ward 18 councillor, Andrew Nduna Matshazi (MDC-T) appeared in court yesterday charged with sending an offensive message about President Robert Mugabe in a council WhatsApp group.
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But Matshazi, through his lawyer, Kholwani Ngwenya, denied the charge when he appeared before Bulawayo magistrate, Batanai Tuwe.
The court heard that sometime in 2014, Bubi Rural District Council set up a WhatsApp group for 23 councillors to share council-related communication and was administered by council employee, Nomagugu Manamike.
On September 28, 2015 at 7:37pm, Matshazi sent the alleged offensive message to the group, leading to his arrest.
The alleged message, written in Ndebele, read: “Let’s shut our teeth and pray, Our father in Harare, if you fall that means we will fall apart. Your government is dead. Your will be done on farms since it is done by war veterans only. Give us our barley from China and do not prevent wheat from entering our borders. May you forgive us for voting for (Morgan) Tsvangirai because we tried you also. Do not force us into Zanu PF, but allow us to go to South Africa. Since you have no money in your country. Arrogance and soldiers are yours until 2015.”
Manamike said though the message does not mention Mugabe by name, it was directed at the Zanu PF leader.
Council chief executive officer, Partson Mlilo insisted that Matshazi’s message was directed at Mugabe.
“The message refers to my President and I was disturbed. It was highly provocative to other councillors, since we have councillors from both MDC and Zanu PF,” he said.
Mlilo suggested that Mugabe was the only father of Zimbabwe based in Harare, so the message referred to him.
At the close of the State case, Matshazi filed for discharge, saying the State had failed to prove that the message was directed at Mugabe.
He was remanded out of custody to July 27 for ruling on his application.-Newsday