By Darlington Gatsi
EFFORTS by Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislators to shine a spotlight on incarcerated opposition colleagues were last week batted away by the Speaker of Parliament
CCC legislators Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole were arrested in June for allegedly inciting the public to commit violence.
Together with other party activists, the MPs have been behind bars for over three months with several efforts to secure bail coming to naught.
During last Thursday’s session in the House of Assembly, CCC MP Willias Madzimure questioned why the legislators were still behind bars despite the law giving them the right to bail.
“The Criminal Procedure Evidence Act says that every individual has the right to be given bail before going for their final judgment,” said Madzimure.
“This allows the de-population of prisons but the challenge is that there are some prisoners who are continuously denied bail despite the fact that they are not a flight risk.
“We also have prisoners who are incarcerated who include Members of Parliament of this august House who have 100 days in prison without being given bail.
“So, I just want the Minister of Justice to come and speak regarding that issue. We have Hon. Sikhala and Hon Sithole who are still incarcerated.”
CCC interim Secretary General Chalton Hwende added; “I am saying they must allow you to explain to us because this is a very important matter to us.
“We have two Members of Parliament who are suffering in jail.”
However, Speaker of Parliament Jacob Medenda said the matter could not be discussed in the absence of the Minister of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
“Hon. Madzimure, yesterday (Wednesday) was question time and the Leader of Government business who is the Minister of Justice was here. Why did you not ask your question?
“I said yesterday the Minister of Justice was here and he (Madzimure) could have asked the question and normally we go by the list. If your question is still burning, approach Hon. Mutseyami so that you are at the top of the list for next week,” said Jacob Mudenda.
The continued pre-trial detention of the legislators and 14 other opposition supporters has been widely condemned by the opposition and human rights groups who see it as politically motivated.
Meanwhile, Sikhala’s spokesperson Freddy Wasarirevu, told local media revealed that the MP’s family was living off well-wishers as he continues his fight for release on bail.
“Job Sikhala is a caring father and a loving husband,” said Wasarirevu.
“It is through the generosity of the people of Zimbabwe who actually came up and said let’s try to contribute something for the purpose of ensuring his kids go back to school.”