Government denies existence of political prisoners – says claims meant to tarnish Zimbabwe’s image

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By Darlington Gatsi

GOVERNMENT has denied the existence of political prisoners in the country, calling the claims by the opposition “falsehoods” and “patently untrue.”

This comes as former Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) MP Job Sikhala is in pretrial detention for over a year in what the opposition has described as “political persecution”.

Prior to the August elections Leader of Transform Zimbabwe, Jacob Ngarivhume was sentenced to three years imprisonment.

In an address to African Union ambassadors acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Amon Murwira said that the Constitution clearly stipulates that all are equal before the law and that nobody is above the law.

“In an attempt to dignify their falsehoods, the opposition claims that Zimbabwe has political prisoners. Government wishes to state categorically that there are no political prisoners in Zimbabwe. The opposition also claims that its supporters are being harassed, intimidated and persecuted.

“This is patently untrue and meant to cover up for their violent acts witnessed in Midlands and Manicaland provinces in the just-ended general elections and local by-elections. The Constitution clearly stipulates that all are equal before the law, and that nobody is above the law. Government condemns the politicization of such criminality,” said Murwira.

In the aftermath of the disputed August 23 general elections, senior CCC members were arrested with some cases still before the courts.

Civil society groups have also raised concern over the arrests which they say stems from this year’s election whose results the opposition has refused to acknowledge.

Murwira told ambassadors from the AU that Zimbabwe is under “attack” from foreign countries who are using local political parties to soil the government.

“Overall, it is not a coincidence that Zimbabwe is under attack less than two weeks before we observe the SADC Anti-Sanctions Day. The anti-sanctions campaign has been echoed at continental level by the African Union, on many occasions and at various Summits and other international fora. Government notes a concerted effort by actors sympathetic to those who imposed unilateral sanctions to undermine this important crusade.

“Zimbabwe reiterates its call for the immediate and unconditional removal of these heinous sanctions. Allow me, Your Excellences, to take this opportunity to reiterate the Government of Zimbabwe’s profound gratitude to the African Union for its continued solidarity and support in calling for the immediate and unconditional removal of the illegal sanctions,” he said.