Jealousy Mawarire, the spokesperson for Zimbabwe People First (ZPF), an opposition political party, has been charged with contravening section 88(b) of the Postal And Telecommunications Act for a tweet he made in response to the Minister of Higher Education Jonathan Moyo‘s attacks on ZPF leader Joice Mujuru.
— mawarire jealousy (@mawarirej) July 24, 2016
Mawarire’s Twitter response that led to the charge
Mawarire was reportedly summoned by the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s Law and Order department and according to his tweets, he handed himself today in in the morning.
Am now going to hand in myself tomorrow in the company of my lawyer at 10 am.
— mawarire jealousy (@mawarirej) August 10, 2016
contravention of sect 88(b) of the posts & telecomms Act for a tweet I made in response 2 Moyo attacks on Dr Mujuru. https://t.co/2OqtGUBHPG
— mawarire jealousy (@mawarirej) August 11, 2016
He was released after being charged with contravening section 88(b) of the Postal And Telecommunications Act which reads,
Offensive or false telephone messages
Any person who
(a) sends by telephone any message that is grossly offensive or is of an indecent, obscene or threatening character; or
(b) sends by telephone any message that he knows to be false for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to any other person; or
(c) makes any telephone call or series or combination of telephone calls without reasonable cause for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level five or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
In the past few months, social media has emerged as an important tool for political expression in Zimbabwe with online movements like #Tajamuka and #ThisFlag gaining a lot of traction and attention.
Through statements made by the Minister of ICT, the telecoms regulator and army officials, tThe Zimbabwean government has repeatedly warned citizens against social media abuse.