By Anna Chibamu
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa looks like a man on a mission to outdo his predecessor Robert Mugabe in charging government critics with treason, MDC leader Nelson Chamisa has said.
While treason attracts the death penalty, ironically Mnangagwa is a strong anti-capital punishment advocate having escaped the hangman’s noose during the liberation struggle because he was under age.
Chamisa was speaking at the launch of his party’s latest policy blueprint, Road to Economic Recovery, Legitimacy, Openness and Democracy (RELOAD) in Harare on Thursday adding that MDC members are not “cowards”.
“We had quarrels with former leader Robert Mugabe in his almost 40-year-old rule. But a comparison of the number of people who were charged with treason in his 37 years in office with those that Mnangagwa has so far charged in his less than two-years on the throne, it seems Mnangagwa is in competition. He seems to be in the departure lounge on treason charges,” said Chamisa.
Chamisa claimed 14 MDC members including human rights defenders had been charged with treason under Mnangagwa’s administration.
Most have however been charged with the lesser charge of subversion that attracts a 20 year-jail term .
This includes the latest victim Zengeza West MP, Job Sikhala now in remand prison for allegedly declaring the opposition will overthrow Mnangagwa before 2023 when elections are due.
Chamisa warned Mnangagwa to stop the crackdown “or we will stop it.”
“That must stop and we will stop it. Do not worry yourselves on how we will stop him but this will happen. We are not cowards and afraid of lions.
“Glory is found from killing the lions. The lions in the midst are the problem we are facing. The source of glory is to do what is right and that is to solve problems,” the MDC leader said.
Sikhala, who was remanded to 24 July, is considering suing the government over the abuse he went through.
Under Mugabe’s rule, a host of opposition leaders from liberation war stalwarts Dumiso Dabengwa, Lookout Masuku, Ndabaningi Sithole to Morgan Tsvangirai were charged with treason for daring to challenge his rule.