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I could be arrested for talking to you – Sikhala tells delegates at Geneva Summit for Human Rights

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By Leopold Munhende


FORMER Member of Parliament Job Sikhala, Wednesday revealed to the annual Geneva Summit, how discussing Zimbabwe’s human rights situation could land him back in prison as per dictates of the country’s Patriotic Act.

Sikhala was addressing the United Nations opening of the Geneva Summit on Human Rights and Democracy where he was invited as one of this year’s speakers.

The former opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Deputy Chairperson, who spent 595 days in pretrial detention, narrated his experience at the hands of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF government.

Sikhala told delegates that his arrest was politically motivated and that it was a ploy to get him out of the way as Zanu PF prepared to manipulate the August 2023 general polls.

“It was the only way Zimbabwe’s corrupt regime could manipulate the 2023 elections and stop me from participating in them,” said Sikhala.

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“They denied me food and visits from friends, colleagues and family.

“The regime piled cases against me during the period of my incarceration. I faced five trials and was convicted twice with one being on a law that does not even exist.

“Innocent until proven guilty does not apply to anyone who dares to stand up to Mnangagwa’s corrupt regime.”

Award-winning Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and former CCC legislator Fadzayi Mahere have both spoken on the same platform.

Added Sikhala: “In July 2023 the regime passed the Patriotic Act, a new repressive legislation targeting free speech and association.

“Under that law, I am deemed to be committing a crime just by talking to you.

“It is no wonder why millions of Zimbabweans have fled abroad in fear of persecution.”

The Patriotic Act is an amendment of the “equally repressive” Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act, commonly referred to as the CODE.

The act bars anyone from “wilfully injuring the sovereignty and national interest of Zimbabwe,” a phrase whose interpretation has worried civil society, human and political activists.

Punishment includes loss of citizenship, denial of the right to vote and the death penalty.

“The signing of the Patriotic Bill into an Act by the President is a grave attack on the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association,” said Khanyo Farisè, Amnesty International’s Deputy Research Director for Southern Africa last July.