Zimbabwe’s First Lady Grace Mugabe. Picture: REUTERS/PHILIMON BULAWAYO
Zimbabwe’s First Lady Grace Mugabe. Picture: REUTERS/PHILIMON BULAWAYO

Harare — Four people have appeared in court in Zimbabwe on charges of undermining the authority of President Robert Mugabe after his wife was heckled while addressing a rally, a state-owned newspaper reported Friday.

The Herald said the four were arrested after attending a ruling Zanu-PF party rally in the country’s south-western city of Bulawayo where Grace Mugabe was jeered during a speech on Saturday.

Prosecutor Jerry Mutsindikwa told a magistrate court that "the quartet, with others, allegedly sang the song ‘into oyenzayo siyayizonda’" — whose Ndebele lyrics translate to "we hate what you are doing" — while Grace addressed the rally. They are "facing a charge of undermining the authority of the president," he said.

The incident angered Mugabe who spoke at the same rally shortly after his wife, accusing his former deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa of organising and sponsoring the hecklers. He vowed to fire Mnangagwa, which he did two days later, in a dramatic move that appeared to open the way for his wife Grace to succeed him in office.

Grace could be appointed as one of the country’s two vice-presidents at the party congress next month.

Mnangagwa who had been touted as an obvious successor to Mugabe, fled into exile this week. His whereabouts are unknown.

The arrest of the four Zanu-PF activists came as the Zimbabwe high court granted bail to Martha O’Donovan, on Thursday, an American journalist charged with insulting Mugabe and attempting to subvert the regime on account of an alleged tweet that described the aging leader as "selfish and sick".


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