100 days, no bail for opposition MPs Sikhala and Sithole; demands for their release grow louder

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By Anna Chibamu

AMNESTY International has condemned the continued arbitrary detention of two opposition Members of Parliament, Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole.

ln a statement released Wednesday as the duo and other CCC members clock 100 days in detention, the human rights body said the regime’s denial of bail to the pair was revealing of the politicised justice system in Zimbabwe.

“The ongoing arbitrary detention of Sikhala and Sithole is unjust and abusive. It has caused unspeakable emotional distress to them and their families,” Lucia Masuka, Executive Director of Amnesty International Zimbabwe said.

Masuka said, “Zimbabwean authorities cannot continue to incarcerate Sikhala and Sithole on trumped up charges. They must be released immediately and unconditionally.”

Sikhala and Sithole were arrested on June 14, 2022 after attending the funeral of political activist, Moreblessing Ali, who was missing for three weeks before being found murdered and her body mutilated on June 11, 2022.

Zimbabwean authorities have accused the MPs of encouraging their supporters to cause violence in Nyatsime, Chitungwiza, during Ali’s memorial service.

The MPs are facing charges of inciting violence and were denied bail when they appeared in the Magistrates Court while several appeals for bail have since been rejected.

As government critics and members of the opposition are frequently harassed and arrested, Amnesty International believes the charges against Sikhala and Sithole, and the denial of their bail, is an effort to persecute and silence political opposition by the Zimbabwean authorities.

“The continued incarceration of Sikhala and Sithole is a travesty of justice. They are victims of a government hellbent on silencing opposition voices,” added Masuka.

“Zimbabwean authorities must stop criminalising dissent and instead create a conducive environment for people to freely express themselves.”