‘Top officials behind Mutodi’s coup plot’

HARARE – Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ally, Energy Mutodi, who is facing charges of undermining the authority of the president and causing disaffection among members of the defence forces, was yesterday further detained after police convinced the court that some big shots were behind him.

In his ruling, Harare provincial magistrate Elisha Singano said it was justified for police to continue detaining the Zanu PF activist.

“It is the court’s considered view that the offence may have been committed within the jurisdiction of this court, here in Zimbabwe. There is a nexus between the accused person and the alleged postings and police are still analysing the Facebook page and other material, which may have been used in committing the offence.

“The court will allow police to bring cogent facts for remand purposes as there is a genuine reason why they need more time. It is a good reason since it can show if the accused person was acting alone or in cahoots with other people or if someone else was abusing his Facebook account. A further detention is therefore warranted,” ruled Singano.

Mutodi, who was arrested on Thursday night, spent yesterday locked up and will today appear before the Harare magistrates’ courts as his case drags on.

He was arrested after he wrote on his social networking wall, Facebook, that Zimbabwe risked a coup if the thorny succession issue was not resolved amicably, adding that President Robert Mugabe should consult the army to avert chaos.

“While a military takeover may be far-fetched in Zimbabwe, it is important for . . . Mugabe to be careful in naming his successor. Any suspicion of unfairness or discrimination on account of tribalism or factionalism may backfire,” he wrote.

“There are key stakeholders that need to be consulted among them the military and the whole security establishment called the Joint Operations Command that is chaired by vice president Mnangagwa,” he went on.

According to Josphat Chitambira, the police officer who is investigating Mutodi, the businessman caused disaffection among defence forces as defined in Section 30 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act chapter 9.23 and also “undermined the authority of or insulting the president as defined in section 33(2)(a)(i) of the same law.

“Investigations carried out so far have established that there is a concerted effort by an organised syndicate of high-powered people, working in cahoots with accused whom we are still working to establish.

“Police are still working with digital forensic analysts to recover additional material from accused’s Facebook account with a view of presenting additional charges,” said Chitambira.

However, Mutodi’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa argued that Chitambira could have compiled that information before coming to court and avoided infringing on her client’s liberty rights.

“It’s politicking by the police. There is no legal basis for anything that you have said other than politics. Why are you making reference to high-powered people in your affidavit if you are not a politician? You are trying to rope in the court in your unlawful expedition in violation of the accused person’s rights,” argued Mtetwa.

“A reasonable, seasoned and professional investigating officer would have conducted investigations prior to coming to court. You do not even know the period from which you are seeking additional information. If the accused person opened his Facebook page in 2010 that would mean seven years of posts you have to sift through and if you failed to deal with one post in 24 hours what more seven years of posts,” the human rights lawyer further argued.

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