By Staff Reporter
CITIZENS Coalition for Change (CCC) Member of Parliament (MP) Job Sikhala will in two and a half months clock a year in pretrial detention for a crime that at most could have gotten him six months, a fine or both if he were to be convicted.
He faces charges of inciting public violence and backing protests that threatened to tear down Nyatsime after a Zanu PF party youth brutally killed CCC activist, Moreblessing Ali.
Sikhala has already spent 301 days at Chikurubi Maximum Prison.
Politicians, activists and civil society leaders Monday dedicated the day to mourning Zimbabwe’s justice system, declaring it Black Monday in remembrance of Sikhala.
Independent Norton MP Temba Mliswa said he had never believed in jailing opponents as politicking. He sent the message while congratulating Sikhala’s son Junior, who will run for the St Mary’s Parliamentary seat his father currently holds.
“Ngaapinde hake mukomana amirire baba vake. If you are heartless against others God has his own ways of dealing with it. I have never believed in this kind of politics where you jail opponents for no crime. There is no justification for what is happening to Job Sikhala!” said Mliswa.
Ngaapinde hake mukomana amirire baba vake. If you are heartless against others God has his own ways of dealing with it. I have never believed in this kind of politics where you jail opponents for no crime. There is no justification for what is happening to Job Sikhala! https://t.co/7VZrF23bhP
— Hon. Temba P. Mliswa (@TembaMliswa) April 6, 2023
Despite earlier claims Sikhala had lashed out at his opposition party supporters for ‘betraying and neglecting’ they led messages of solidarity for the outspoken MP.
“This is not just about Job Sikhala, it’s an attack on the very heart of constitutional democracy. Freedom is on trial. 301 days in detention for being a critic of government? This is a dark stain on our democracy. We demand his release,” said CCC Spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere.
🟡DAY 301: This is not just about @JobSikhala1. It’s an attack on the very heart of constitutional democracy. Freedom is on trial. 301 days in detention for being a critic of Govt? This is a dark stain on our democracy. We demand his release. #FreeWiwa pic.twitter.com/IRLF3XclVK
— Fadzayi Mahere🇿🇼 (@advocatemahere) April 11, 2023
Sikhala, who was legal counsel for the Ali family after her murder, was arrested on June 14, 2022 together with fellow MP Godfrey Sithole.
Sithole was released on November 10, 2022 after 150 days in detention on similar charges.
The family then declared it will only bury Ali once Sikhala was released as they queried his incarceration. She is yet to be buried almost a year after her dismembered body was found dumped in a disused well.
Said activist Makomborero Haruzivishe on Black Monday: “Today marks 300 days with Job Sikhala in pretrial incarceration for a charge which if convicted has a maximum sentence of 180 days. There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice.”
Chief Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni, who is exiled in the United Kingdom (UK) after standing up to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime even attending opposition party rallies in open defiance of his capture of religious leaders said Zanu PF had ‘dug itself into a deep hole.’
“The Zanu PF government has dug itself into a deep hole and does not know how to come out of it. Our advice is ‘stop digging the hole’ then you will be able to come out. Release Job Sikhala. You gain absolutely nothing at all by keeping him locked up,” said Chief Ndiweni.
Sikhala is expected back in court on Wednesday April 12, 2023.