Martha O’Donovan, a 25-year old resident of New Jersey, has been charged with subversion in Zimbabwe because of “a couple of tweets” in which she called 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe, who has been ruling in the African country for more than 35 years, a “selfish and sick man” who is also a “goblin” along with pictures showing he uses a catheter.
O’Donovan, who works with a YouTube web channel that likes to create satirical content in the country, was arrested earlier this week and kept in maximum-security Chikurubi Prison on the outskirts of its capital, Harare. She was charged with subversion, an extremely serious offense in Zimbabwe, with a prison sentence of 20 years, for allegedly “attempting to overthrow the government of President Robert Mugabe,” reports NPR.
“O’Donovan was charged with attempting to overthrow the government of President Robert Mugabe. Mugabe, who is 93 years old, has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980. She was originally accused of insulting the president, but the new charges are much more severe..”
“Last month, Mugabe said the country wanted to crack down on social media because it was spreading lies about his government and threatening the country’s already collapsed economy.”
— Amnesty International – SARO (@AmnestySARO) November 6, 2017
Mugabe has been ruling in Zimbabwe since 1980, first as Prime Minister and then as President. Critics argue that he has been growing increasingly authoritarian in clamping down dissenters lately and cutting down on free speech. Now 93, he is reported to be paranoid about enemies overthrowing his government. It is quite ironic that Martha O’Donovan has been charged with subversion, a charge which was also leveled against Mugabe himself when he was a young school teacher tired of British imperialism in the African continent.
Great Questions of our time:
If you are Zimbabwean, do you think Robert Mugabe must NOW resign as President?
— mmatigari (@matigary) October 7, 2017
The prosecutors alleged that through her online Twitter handle @matigary, Donovan was attempting to create an uprising similar to the Arab uprising which started in Tunisia and Egypt, with social media playing a great role in organizing and informing people about the protests.
On Thursday, there was some respite for the American woman when a court in the country decided to grant bail, with the judge noting that the government’s case against Martha O’Donovan lacked evidence, reports Al Jazeera.
“I am very happy that justice has been done, I’m glad that my client has been vindicated because we have always argued that she was a perfect candidate for bail,” Obey Shava of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, told the news organization.
O’Donovan has previously called the charges against her as “baseless and malicious.” She goes on trial next week.
[Featured Image by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP Images]