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Individual convicted for carrying printed e-mail message critical of president and vice-president

(MISA/IFEX) - In the first case of its kind, a Harare magistrate has tried and convicted a man who was found in possession of a printed email message containing information that was said to denigrate President Robert Mugabe and Vice President Joice Mujuru.

On 23 August 2007, Tendai Murove was charged and convicted on his own plea of guilt to contravening section 26(1)(a) as read with section 33 of the colonial Censorship and Entertainment Control Act after he was found in possession of a six-page letter allegedly sent to him by a friend. Section 26 prohibits the possession of prohibited articles while section 33 states the determination of what is indecent or obscene or offensive or harmful to public morals.

The message, which was written in Shona, repeatedly makes reference to Mugabe and Mujuru, mocking Mugabe for his economic policies and Zimbabwe's record inflation, which now stands above 6,000 percent.

"There is not a drop of fuel in Zimbabwe. Neither is there any sign of beer. I pray that Bush (George) and (Tony) Blair can come and rid us of this bespectacled man," the email laments in apparent reference to Mugabe.

"My sister-in-law hails from a wealthy family. She only gets reminded of matters to do with Zimbabwe's economic problems and inflation when Gono (Gideon, the central bank governor) presents his monetary policy statements. She has a sizeable round bottom. From that you can tell she grew up sitting on a sofa, unlike those (bottoms) of (Vice President) Mai Mujuru which were repeatedly scratched by thorny bushes and bullets during the liberation war."

Murove was convicted and sentenced to a fine of Z$1 million (approx. US$33) or seven days' imprisonment.

Murove was initially arrested for public drinking in Harare's Avenues area. The police then discovered the document on him.

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