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A dangerous sense of humour

A dangerous sense of humour

It is now actually a crime to compare Mnangagwa’s response to Covid-19 to that of South Africa’s Ramaphosa.

As the number of Covid-19 cases continues to rise, so is the number of people getting into trouble with authorities in regards to the pandemic.

An opposition councillor appeared in court on Friday accused of undermining the President’s authority by criticising government’s response to the Coronavirus epidemic.

“(Cyril) Ramaphosa just announced a R500 billion stimulus package in South Africa. Seeing him addressing and comparing him with E.D (Mnangagwa), you won’t doubt that we are having a fool for a head of state,” reads the WhatsApp message that the accused allegedly wrote.

Though granted bail, the man faces a year in jail if found guilty as the offence of undermining the authority of or insulting the President carries that sentence.

It is now actually a crime to compare Mnangagwa’s response to Covid-19 to that of South Africa’s Ramaphosa.

If they were to follow up on all cases, many social media users would find themselves in trouble as they have been finding humour in comparing the two leaders, resulting in Mnangagwa being called Rama-kopa (kopa derived from the word copying) as he seems to have been copying or taking a leaf from his SA counterpart.

When South Africa announced a 21-day lockdown, Zimbabwe did the same. When the former affected a 14-day extension, it soon became clear that Zimbabwe would follow suit.

Some people are even jokingly saying Zimbabwe is now a province in South Africa with Mnangagwa being its premier as he ‘looks up’ to his boss for ideas and inspiration.

While this was meant to lighten up social media streets, the authorities have found the jokes distasteful hence it is now a criminal offence to compare the two.

The councillor is the second person to be formally charged with an offence linked to the virus.

As previously reported, an unfortunate man is currently languishing on remand in prison facing a 20-year jail term for spreading fake news about the first lockdown extension.

Though fake at the time, the man’s ‘prediction’ later came to pass as the President went on to extend the lockdown on April 19 by a further 14 days.

One would have thought the President would let it pass but no, and since he personally said the accused should be locked away for two decades, the courts might feel compelled to do as the President instructed.

Meanwhile, the country now has 40 confirmed Covid-19 cases, after a man from the rural areas who had been admitted at a public hospital in Harare suffering from malaria tested positive for the virus.

This has sparked fears that some of the recent 150 deaths attributed to malaria may have been Coronavirus related.

What is also hair-raising is that the virus is now in rural areas, places with limited and heavily under-resourced health centres. Far from being a laughing matter, that’s positively terrifying news!

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