Business, Economics and Jobs

Zimbabwe courts rule both ways

Zimbabwe's courts go both ways.

In Harare, a judge released on bail six people charged with treason for watching videos of events in Tunisia and Egypt and allegedly plotting to overthrow President Robert Mugabe's government.

Munyaradzi Gwisai, a former member of parliament from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's party, and his five co-accused were arrested in February with 40 other people who were later released for lack of evidence.

The state asked the court to refuse bail to the six remaining in jail, but high court judge Samuel Kudya said the case against Gwisai and his colleagues was weak.

"I see no iota of evidence that any Zimbabwean ever contemplated a Tunisian and Egyptian revolution," Kudya said in his ruling.

"Treason is difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt, as determined by the Tsvangirai case," the judge said, referring to the now-prime minister's treason trial after he was accused in 2002 of seeking to topple President Robert Mugabe.

Gwisai and the others were freed on bail but they must stand trial later. Treason carries the death penalty in Zimbabwe.

But in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city, a judge refused bail to Vikas Mavhudzi, who has been accused with subversion for making a favorable comment about the Egyptian revolt on Facebook.

Mavhudzi, 39, wrote on Tsvangirai's Facebook page, which has 60,000 fans: "I am overwhelmed ... What happened in Egypt is sending shockwaves to dictators around the world. No weapon but unity of purpose worth emulating, hey."

Zimbabwean security agents saw the post on Facebook and tracked Mavhudzi down and arrested him. Mavhudzi is charged with suggesting to Tsvangirai a takeover of Mugabe's government by unconstitutional means. Bail was refused on the grounds that "what happened in Egypt is a reality."

Mavhudzi's lawyer will appeal the refusal of bail.