American woman charged in Zimbabwe with subversion, insulting President Robert Mugabe

Trevor Jackson
November 6, 2017

AfricaNews.com:-Zimbabwean police arrested a U.S. citizen on Friday for apparently tweeting that President Robert Mugabe is a "goblin whose wife and step-son bought a Rolls Royce", lawyers said.

The court disagreed, and Ms O'Donovan will remain in custody over the weekend.

The charge of subversion carries up to 20 years in prison.

O'Donovan has been charged with undermining the authority of or insulting the president, Shava said. Hanzi said on Monday they will approach the High Court for bail.

Now, she is being accused of insulting the dignity of the African president, which is illegal in that country, and she might also face charges for trying to overthrow the government of Mugabe because of her tweet, where she expressed that he is a selfish, sick man.

Ms O'Donovan denied the allegations as "baseless and malicious". We were contending that the arrest was not in compliance with the mandatory provisions of the constitution - in particular, that the police were obligated to inform our client for the reason of the arrest at the time they arrested her, something which they didn't do.

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She later said O'Donovan faced additional charges of subverting a constitutionally elected government.

The offending tweet allegedly referred to a "goblin whose wife and step-son bought a Rolls-Royce".

"Mugabe... created the cyber-security ministry as an attempt to clamp down on social media movements that pose a big threat to his regime ahead of the election", Bulawayo-based analyst Dumisani Mpofu previously told AFP.

O'Donovan, an alum of NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study, has been in Zimbabwe for a year working as a project officer for satirical outlet Magamba TV and a bartender at local watering hole, Mars Bar. Earlier this year, she presented a talk at a digital culture conference on "How Zimbabweans Rebel Online".

The group Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights says it has represented close to 200 people charged for allegedly insulting the president in recent years.

"This arrest marks the start of a sinister new chapter in the Zimbabwean government's clampdown on freedom of speech, and the new battleground is social media", Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International's deputy regional director stated.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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