Three singers incarcerated for brilliantly converting Robert Mugabe’s jingle

THREE residents from Penhalonga, which is situated about 300 kilometres east of the capital Harare, have been languishing in prison for over a week for allegedly singing a modified version of Mbare Chimurenga Choir’s ‘Nyatsoteerera’ song, reported Freemuse’s stringer in Zimbabwe

The State alleges that the three craftily turned Nyatsoteerera’s song that heaps praise on President Robert Mugabe into a “defamatory” funeral hymn. The trio is now being charged for contravening Section 41 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.

“On 3 February 2011 and at Tsvingwe cemetery, Penhalonga, Patrick Chikoti, Faith Mudiwa and Phillip Dowera or one or more of them engaged in disorderly and ritious (sic) conduct and threatening words i.e. ‘Nyatsoterera unzwe kupenga muhofisi mune mboko nyatsoterera unzwe kupenga’ and ‘Ngatishandei nesimba takabatana tibvise kamudhara aka muoffice mupinde president wenyika Morgan Tsvangirai,’ that they would remove President Mugabe from office intending to provoke a breach of the peace, realising that there was a real risk or possibility that a breach of peace may be provoked,” reads the State outline.

Peggy Mapfumo-Tavagadza of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) successfully applied for the trio’s bail last week. But the State invoked Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (CPEA), which automatically suspends the bail order for seven days while the State decides on whether to appeal or not.

Campaign song

Nyatsoteerera is enjoying unprecedented airplay on all radio stations as well as on television, as ZANU PF heightens its election campaign.

Section 121 of the CPEA has been increasingly used by the State over the past years in cases involving political activists to suspend bail granted by the courts. Lawyers say this unnecessarily infringes upon citizens’ fundamental right to liberty.

Recently, Florence Ziyambi, the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Attorney General’s Office, barred prosecutors from consenting to bail without consulting their superiors.