MDC Kuwadzana East MP, Charlton Hwende’s bid for freedom flopped after Harare Magistrate Babra Mateko dismissed his application against further remand saying it was too early for him to complain.
Hwende is facing charges of subversion related to the January violent protests that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government contends were funded by Western powers with a regime change agenda.
Through his lawyer, Harrison Nkomo, Hwende had challenged further remand arguing that the State was not ready to prosecute him.
“The application is premature and is therefore dismissed. The accused has been on remand for two months only and it is not time to worry considering a case against him is a complex one,” ruled Mateko.
The State had applied for a postponement saying Hwende’s docket has been sent to the National Prosecution Authority for authority to proceed with trial.
“The State had to be given the service of an expert to establish authority of the Twitter message,” said prosecutor Sebastian Mutizirwa.
Hwende’s lawyer then complained that this shows that the State had no case against his client.
“That’s a joke,” Nkomo said.
“The accused has been in the hands of the State for two months and two days. Why would the State seek an expert two months later. This is equivalent to investigative prosecuting which means the State was not sure of the Twitter account, they sent him to prison on speculation.”
Hwende once made an application challenging placement on remand and the request was rejected after the court ruled there was reasonable suspicion that a crime was committed.
While making his application, Hwende disowned his alleged Twitter handle arguing the state has no evidence to prove the account belongs to him.
The MP also argued that the allegations he is facing do not disclose any offense.
“What evidence did the state bring to prove the Twitter account belongs to him?” asked his lawyer.
The accused will State that it does not belong to him even though what was posted is not criminal,” he said.
Allegations are that between December 28, and 31, last year Hwende allegedly posted on his Twitter handle messages that could incite people to revolt against the government.
It is alleged that Hwende’s posts encouraged people to engage in mass protests and hooliganism.
According to the State, Hwende wrote on the Twitter account: “2019 should be the year of the final push to a new Zimbabwe. We cannot continue on this trajectory of failure and kwashiorkor of leadership. Enough is enough. In January citizens must organise themselves for a complete shutdown of the country.
“Stay at home no one will shoot you…2019 is the year of rolling mass action against the illegal regime of @edmnangagwa. We voted for @nelsonchamisa and we must be prepared like the thousands of gallant liberation struggle heroes to die defending our right to choose the president of our choice #2019Chamisamuoffice.”
The court heard that between January 14 and 16, 2019 and in response to Hwende’s exhortations, members of the opposition, various trade unionists, pressure groups, youth forums and members of the public engaged in violent protests across the country.
As a result, property was destroyed, lives were lost, several police officers and members of the public were also injured.