By Darlington Gatsi
FRESH efforts to secure bail by Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) lawmakers Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole have hit a snag after Harare magistrate Taurai Manuwere dismissed their application which cited changed circumstances.
Through defence lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, the duo had approached the magistrates’ court in a fifth attempt to acquire bail under changed circumstances.
The legislators had argued that there has been a passage of time without trial.
They also accused the courts of being political, and cited the existence of a petition signed by citizens and addressed to President Emmerson Mnangagwa seeking their release from Prison.
The State, in response, argued that the two should remain locked up because their trial date has already been set.
In his ruling, Manuwere said there had been no changed circumstances warranting granting Sikhala and Sithole bail.
- In Pictures: Incarcerated CCC lawmaker Job Sikhala appears at court on fresh charges
- IN PICTURES: Nelson Chamisa attends court in solidarity with Job Sikhala
- Job Sikhala’s continued detention sparks protest; Chitungwiza residents demand release of Nyatsime 16
“The decision to grant or not to grant bail cannot and must not be directed by public perception, opinion and clamour,” said the magistrate.
“To grant one bail based on public perception, opinion and clamour which are not factual but purely speculative. This is not only unconstitutional but public speculation, opinion and clamour are not at all changed circumstances.
“There are no changed circumstances which warrant an admission of bail,” said Taurai Manuwere.
Sikhala and Sithole have endured nearly four months of incarceration over allegations of inciting public violence after the death of opposition supporter Moreblessing Ali.
The opposition argues that the arrest of the legislators is politically motivated, accusing the government of stifling its party.
“I should make it abundantly clear that this court is not a political court. It refuses to be dragged into political issues as the defence seeks. It is independent and impartial,” read Manuwere’s ruling further.
The opposition legislators will mount another application for bail with a ruling expected to be delivered on the 14th of October.