Five Zimbabwean war veterans who issued a statement in July denouncing support for a Robert Mugabe presidential bid in 2018 will reappear in court on Wednesday after their trial failed to commence on Tuesday.
Lawyer for the 5 veterans, Harrison Nkomo explained that: “We came here intending to commence the trial of Douglas Mahiya and other war veterans. Unfortunately, the matter could not commence because the State prosecutor indicated in the morning that his wife was unwell.”
The five, including Victor Matemadanda, former Secretary-General of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association and Douglas Mahiya, former spokesman are accused of “undermining the authority of the president or insulting the president” in their July statement.
The veterans had accused the 92-year-old leader of dictatorial tendencies, egocentrism and misrule as well as abandoning the veterans for the Zanu-PF’s youth league.
“It’s being alleged that sometime on the 27th of July 2016, they sat down, all of them and connived to craft a communication which ultimately was insulting the office of His Excellency the president of the Republic of Zimbabwe,” said Nkomo of the charges his clients face.
Reports suggest the 5 veterans could face up to 10 years in jail if convicted. But analysts also say the trial points to the divisions within the ruling Zanu-PF party.
Zimbabwe has been rocked by a wave of protests in recent times over the country’s worsening economic situation, with many of the protesters calling on president Mugabe to step down.
There have been renewed protest this month over the government’s decision to introduce bond notes for use in the country.
Mugabe who has resisted pressure on him to resign, at the weekend told a group of non-combatant veterans that if he were to retire, he should be allowed to do so properly.