A well-known Zimbabwean human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, has reportedly castigated the State for "wrongly" addressing First Lady Grace Mugabe as "Her Excellency", saying that she was nowhere near the "excellency" status.
According to NewsDay, Mtetwa made the remarks while applying for the removal of her client, war veterans’ secretary general Victor Matemadanda from remand. Matemadanda was accused of insulting the authority of President Robert Mugabe.
"The State witness, Benius Murira, in his affidavit, stated that Matemadanda insulted Her Excellency Dr Grace Mugabe. Surely Your Worship, the First Lady is not Her Excellency," Mtetwa was quoted as saying.
"The State must separate His Excellency the State President from other people. There is no provision for that in our Constitution."
Matemadanda last month, while addressing a press conference in Harare, accused Grace of "capturing" Mugabe due to his old age. He said that it was time that the war veterans "started building bridges" with the country's opposition parties to get rid of Mugabe.
Matemadanda also alleged at the time that the president’s wife was now running the country. This was after Grace told Zimbabwe's vice presidents at a campaign rally in Chinhoyi that they were serving at her husband's will.
Grace warned her husband’s deputies, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko that they risked losing their jobs if they did not perform to the expectations of the 93-year-old Mugabe.
Grace, at the same rally, also ridiculed Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere over his "big belly" before she proceeded to humiliate Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba for ignoring her philanthropic work in Mazoe while giving her "party rivals" positive coverage.
Mtetwa argued that Matemadanda had a right to criticise his party president , "who is also his patron at the war veterans’ association and the facts in the State outline did not disclose any criticism directed at the President, but the First Lady, who is not the authority".
Zanu-PF party garb
Mtetwa said Matemadanda's actions could not be criminalised, as he was exercising his right to freedom of expression.
She said that when Mugabe was wearing his Zanu-PF party garb, he was not protected from any criticism by members of his party and that constituted "unprotected criticism of the party president, not State President".
Meanwhile, a report by New Zimbabwe.com on Wednesday said that the Harare magistrate's courts on Tuesday reserved their ruling in Matemadanda's anti-Mugabe case.
Mtetwa, the report said, doubted if the courts were going to rule in favour of Matemadanda when they delivered the ruling on Friday.
"I do not expect the magistrate's courts to actually find in our favour… But we just need the record to show that these issues were raised and then we can follow our rights elsewhere," Mtetwa was quoted as saying.