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We will not be bullied into silence – Sikhala’s camp unmoved by arrest threats over Geneva Summit speech

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By Tapiwa Svondo


FORMER legislator Job Sikhala’s National Democratic Working Group (NDWG) has said it is unfazed by threats to its leader following his scathing speech at the Geneva Human Rights and Democracy Summit.

In his speech, Sikhala who was in pretrial detention for 595 days until his eventual release blasted President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime for stifling democratic space and gross human rights violations.

He further told delegates his arrest was politically motivated and a ploy to block him from participating in the August 2023 general elections.

Sikhala added that he could be arrested for the presentation using the Patriotic Act which bars anyone from “wilfully injuring the sovereignty and national interest of Zimbabwe”. Punishment for offenders includes loss of citizenship, denial of the right to vote and the death penalty.

His remarks drew the ire of high-ranking ruling ZANU PF officials, including Midlands Provincial Affairs Minister, Owen ‘Mudha’ Ncube and government spokesperson Nick Mangwana who accused Sikhala of lying.

Speaking to journalists, Tuesday, NDWG acting chairman, Wurayayi Zembe said Zanu PF was using intimidation and repressive tactics to silence dissenting voices like Sikhala.

“In the light of an unjustified onslaught and calls by ZANU PF functionaries among them; Nick Mangwana, Energy Mutodi, Sengezo Tshabangu, Owen Mudha Ncube and Zanupf Varakashi (Destroyers) for the arrest over the statement made by Hon. Advocate Sikhala…

“We are not alarmed, moved or fazed by the Zanu PF regime members’ attack on our Chairman and Facilitator for telling the world about his experiences during his latest political imprisonment.

“The Zanu PF government has enacted a raft of laws including the Patriotic Act whose sole purpose is to limit democratic freedoms and thereby entrench a totalitarian system of governance in which people are subjected to all kinds of political, social and economic abuses.

“We refuse to be coerced and bullied into silence through the usual historic Rhodesian tactics and use of repressive laws. We are all Zimbabweans. This is our country together. We will not be swept under or pushed outside our nation by a club of greedy self-centred Zanu PF individuals,” said Zembe.

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Zembe dismissed an X page impersonating Sikhala and has called for demonstrations against the arrest threats.

“We have just received disturbing media reports that the Zanupf regime agents have gone to the extent of creating a fake X account in the name of our Chairman and Facilitator to justify his arrest.

“Yesterday, the bogus account called for action on 25 May 2024 attributing it to Hon. Advocate Job Sikhala, which is wholly mischievous, nonsensical and absolute hogwash. The fictitious X account is being run with a sinister agenda, and we call upon all good Zimbabweans to report that bogus account to the X management for its erasure”, he added.

Zembe further cited several past human rights abuse cases – abductions, murders of activists, and the interference of state security agencies in elections, as evidence of the government’s heavy-handed approach to dissent.

Added Zembe, “Human Rights violations, including abductions, are an everyday ever-present threat and reality to people in politics and civil society in Zimbabwe.”