MDC Alliance Binga North legislator Prince Dubeko Sibanda yesterday appeared before a Bulawayo Magistrate Court charged with inciting public violence, New Zimbabwe reports.
Sibanda was charged after a witness saw him distributing a mask written Zanu PF must go to a Pick n Pay employees. Prince who pleaded not guilty to the charges said he is allowed to say Zanu PF must go since he is a known member of the opposition:
As an honourable member of parliament and as a member of the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance, the message ‘#Zanu PF Must Go’ is ideal in that I have been consistently perpetrating since 2013. I believe in democratic processes to achieve this ideal,
A state witness Matthew Mutavayi who testified against Sibanda in court said:
I was in a queue awaiting my turn to have my temperature checked and get sanitised to gain entry into the shop. What irritated me was that employee just discarded his duty and rushed to Sibanda’s car. As a citizen who was waiting to get a service, I felt irritated.
I then inquired from the two employees what it is that was exciting them that much which they had received from Sibanda. They proudly showed me their face masks and reiterated that indeed #Zanu PF Must Go.
He infringed on my rights as a citizen who was awaiting mere service at a shopping centre. Also judging from the political atmosphere in the country at that time, I feared for my life and safety as I felt Sibanda’s conduct would incite violence
Sibanda’s lawyer Nqobani Sithole dismissed Muavayi’s claims as baseless and said the witness has a hidden agenda for misleading the court:
This is a display of overzealousness, mostly owing to the fact that you cannot tolerate people with different political beliefs. There was no point at which my client or employees said they would incite violence. In a democratic country like the Republic of Zimbabwe, people have freedom of expression and can choose whichever political party they so wish
The Magistrate postponed the case to 25 September
More: New Zimbabwe