A ZIMBABWEAN court has ended the abuse of prosecution processes to persecute legitimate human rights defenders after acquitting them on charges of convening an unsanctioned meeting in contravention of the repressive Maintenance of Peace and Order (MOPO) Act.
Two Institute for Young Women’s Development (IYWD) team members, Sandra Zenda and Kudakwashe Munemo, had been on trial at Bindura Magistrates Court, since last year after they were arrested on Wednesday 29 July 2022 by Zimbabwe Republic Police officers and charged with contravening section 7(1)(b) as read with section 5 of
the MOPO Act.
Zenda and Munemo, who were represented by Tinashe Chinopfukutwa, Idirashe Chikomba and Kelvin Kabaya of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, were accused of convening a meeting which was attended by 80 people on 29 June 2022 at Mayfair Lodge in Bindura, without giving notice in writing to Chief Superintendent Gladman Chiparaushe, the ZRP Officer Commanding Bindura District, for approval.
On 8 June 2023, Bindura Magistrate Samantha Dhlamini, discharged and acquitted the duo after ruling that prosecutors had not managed to prove a case against Zenda and Munemo beyond reasonable doubt.
The Magistrate ruled that the evidence of one of the state witnesses was purely hearsay and therefore inadmissible.
Magistrate Dhlamini also ruled that the meeting, which was allegedly convened by Zenda and Munemo, was exempted in terms of the MOPO Act from the requirement to notify the so-called Regulatory Authority.