The story of the outspoken lecturer who called Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe “a rotten old donkey” was widely reported on in the media this Saturday. Chenjerai Pamhiri is employed by the Great Zimbabwe State University. For this offence, he was sentenced to three months in jail by a Zimbabwean magistrate.
It is alleged that Pamhiri launched into a call for Mugabe to be removed from power at a supermarket where he was shopping. He made comparisons between Mugabe and “dirt which should be discarded”. Part of the lecturer’s rant was reserved for asking Zimbabweans not to cast their votes in favour of the president in the next elections.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said that the conviction and subsequent sentencing of Chenjerai Pamhiri has been received with shock. He said that lawyers have adopted this case and intend to appeal Pamhiri’s conviction and sentence.
Chenjerai Pamhiri’s case is not unique. In fact, in Zimbabwe, people often get detained for making unsavoury remarks about the president. The charges are slander and breach of public order law.
Kumbirai Mafunda is the spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. He confirmed that since 2010, there have been more than 60 known cases of people who have been arrested for slandering President Mugabe and the government.
Robert Gabriel Mugabe has been the president of Zimbabwe since 1987. Both Mugabe and his wife Grace are no strangers to controversy. In recent years, President Mugabe effectively stripped white farmers of their farms and handed them to Zimbabweans who did not have the necessary skill and experience to make anything productive of the farms. His wife is known for her extravagant taste in fashion and frequent overseas shopping trips. The pair has been accused of using violence and a range of intimidation tactics to retain power and maintain their extravagant lifestyle.