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CHIKURUBI INTERVIEW: Sikhala says ready to stay in prison as long it takes; ‘I am comfortable with them keeping me here’

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By Leo Munhende I Chief Correspondent


INCARCERATED Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) deputy chairperson Job Sikhala has, in an exclusive interview, accused Zanu PF of deliberately keeping him jailed out of fear his political influence and capacity to mobilise might work against it at next year’s polls.

Zengeza West Member of Parliament (MP) Sikhala, who has been imprisoned at Harare’s Chikurubi Prison for the past 151 days, said being held at the maximum security prison among the country’s most dangerous criminals had not deterred his conviction, as he was ready for a longer haul.

He was arrested mid-June alongside co-accused Godfrey Sithole and 14 other opposition activists who protested the brutal killing of colleague Moreblessing Ali by a Zanu PF member, Pius Jamba in Nyatsime, Chitungwiza.

Sikhala and Sithole were denied bail at the lower courts and the High Court before Sikhala was hit with fresh charges based on the same circumstances.

Following the development, a leading international law firm, Amsterdam & Partners, in July joined Sikhala’s Zimbabwean legal team to bring justice to the case, which they say is politically motivated and without merit.

Various courts’ efforts to seek bail for him have been in vain, while Sithole was ‘surprisingly’ granted bail Thursday at the Rotten Row Courts after having spent 149 days in jail, without trial.

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Sithole, who is Chitungwiza North legislator, was released on ZW$300 000 (US$487.80) bail and ordered to report twice at his nearest police station.

“Zanu PF is afraid of releasing me. They know doing that before next year’s elections will definitely cement their loss at the polls. They know my capacity,” said Sikhala.

“There should not be any doubt or fear for me here, I am comfortable with them keeping me here. It gives me more time to teach comrades being kept here about the Zimbabwean situation.

“I have prepared myself for a long stay and am ready to stay until the cows come home. This is just an attempt to delay the inevitable, a Zanu PF loss.”

Sikhala’s case has been used by the CCC, opposition politicians, civic society organisations (CSOs) and internationally by the British parliament as an example of ruling Zanu PF’s use of the judiciary to punish dissent.

Only one of the 16 accused Nyatsime activists, Felix Phiri, has been granted bail (ZW$20 000).

After National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) president, Lovemore Madhuku suggested dialogue with Zanu PF through President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Political Leaders and Actors Dialogue (POLAD) platform, Sikhala said he had no time for any such deal.

“I said I am willing to be here until the end,” said Sikhala.

He is expected back in court November 17.

CCC president Nelson Chamisa has been denied access to Sikhala twice, while MDC Alliance leader Douglas Mwonzora’s claims he had met him were rubbished by his spokesperson hours after being published.