University of Kent Law Lecturer Alex Magaisa’s Twitter Thread on the selective application of the law by Zimbabwean authorities and the use of the law against critics (lawfare).
Remember the strategy of Lawfare? It’s a favourite of the Mnangagwa regime. It has normalised selective application of the law aided by the lack of resistance to it. That’s why Fantan and Levels are in jail while ministers like Mutsvangwa and Kazembe who violated the same laws aren’t.
That’s why Hopewell Chin’ono has been arrested and Job Sikhala is threatened with arrest for something that was in the public domain and was done by scores of people. State media journalists lie every day, nobody arrests them. The targeting is political, no doubt.
So far we have seen Lawfare at the level of arrests and denial of bail. But the Fantan and Levels’ case represents something more ominous: conviction and sentencing. This is the next stage of Lawfare. That case is the start of normalisation of convictions and jailing proper.
The most important observation is that nobody who gets on the wrong side of this regime is safe. You might be a critic like Chin’ono or an entertainer like Fantan or a politician like Mafume, it matters not. We will see more of Lawfare unless of course, people say no to it.
With Lawfare, the regime will tell you that it’s applying the law and that it has the sovereign power to enforce its laws. Never mind that the law is applied selectively and unjustly. Hitler, Stalin, Amin, Smith, slave masters all argued the same: that they were applying the law.
It’s, of course, a mockery of the law, a crude manipulation of the rule of law, but they will tell you that they are enforcing the rule of law. But when the law is selectively applied it becomes a crude instrument of abuse; to target political critics under the guise of legality.
One might use the analogy of the knife. In the hands of a chef, it is a useful instrument in the kitchen, but in the hands of a murderer, it is a weapon to kill. The law is a good thing, but in the hands of abusive people, it is a crude weapon of abuse.