Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba failed to appear before the Harare Magistrate’s court on Wednesday in the matter in which social commentator, Tawona Shadaya, allegedly retweeted a tweet from a fake account purporting to belong to her.
Through his lawyers, Shadaya (25) had put the State on notice. He has indicated that on November 27 he will make an application for refusal of further remand. Shadaya (25) who was arrested after re-tweeting a post from a fake Priscilla Chigumba account successfully made an application to change his guilty plea.
He is being charged with criminal insult after retweeting a message purportedly belonging to Chigumba in August. Shadaya appeared before Harare magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa and was remanded to November 20.
The State led by prosecutor Sebastian Mutizirwa indicated that it would serve Chigumba with the State papers so she can testify in court.
Shadaya is being represented by Zimbabwe Human Rights Lawyer Noble Chinhanu. During their application for change of plea Shadaya’s defence council submitted that his only crime was retweeting a tweet which he believed to have originated from Chigumba herself.
“In the event that the retweet was from a legitimate account, then there is no offence to talk of, he would have simply repeated what Chigumba would have said and that is not an offence.
“He is not facing charges of creating the ‘fake’ account and tweeting anything under the guise that he is Chigumba, all he did was simply retweet what had been said and he did not edify the message.”
It is the State’s case that sometime in August, an unknown person created an account in the name of Chigumba, the complainant in the case.
In the same month Shadaya allegedly retweeted an offensive message from the account. It is alleged that his conduct soiled Chigumba’s dignity. Chigumba was allegedly alerted by a friend who came across the message on Twitter. She, however, denied having a twitter account.
Shadaya initially pleaded guilty indicating that he had been drunk when he made the retweet.