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Sikhala, Sithole acknowledge ‘indefatigable support’ from the public

Incarcerated opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) MPs Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole have appreciated the support they are getting from top Zimbabwean figures like investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, Professor Ibbo Mandaza among others.

The two legislators have been in jail for more than 110 days together with 14 members of Nyatsime. They are all charged with incitement to commit public violence to avenge the death of murdered CCC activist Moreblessing Ali.

In a statement, Sikhala’s family spokesperson Freddy Masarirevhu thanked Zimbabweans who are continuously offering solidarity to the jailed activists.

He also acknowledged the work being done by their lawyers who are being advised by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and Human Rights NGO Forum.

“Fellow Zimbabweans, we feel your inner pain because of what we are currently going through behind these dark walls of Chikurubi Maximum Prison. We found it fit to have this statement released to appreciate your indefatigable support.

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“We cannot hide the fact that we have suffered for the past four months. As humans, there is a certain amount of pain and suffering we can endure,” read the statement.

“A lot has been happening during our incarceration, which we strongly feel is unjustified and, most importantly, unlawful as it violates the fundamental pillars of constitutionalism and the rule of law. We cannot express enough our resentment and indignation at the manner in which our cases have been handled.

“However, the purpose of this statement is not to express regret, sadness, or disappointment, but rather to express gratitude for your support through various initiatives from the day of our arrest to the present.

“We would like to thank our exceptional legal team, consisting of Beatrice Mtetwa, Jeremiah Bamu, and Alec Muchadehama, for a tenacious legal fight from our day of arrest. The level of investment and commitment they have shown towards our case is beyond any measure.”

They also thanked Zimbabweans in the diaspora who are also in solidarity with the jailed activists.

“The diaspora community has done a lot for us and our families, and we would like to express gratitude. We want to expressly thank Chenayi (Mutambasere) for the hard work and, more significantly, for engaging a team of foreign legal experts led by Amsterdam & Partners LLP to assist in our case.

“Professor Ibbo Mandaza, your great work is visible. We would like to extend our thanks to you and the 116 other people who petitioned President Mnangagwa over our unlawful detention. Such a level of sacrifice is very comforting to us.

“We are also indebted to our sister Tsitsi Dangarembga for initiating and supporting another petition demanding justice not only for us but for the rest of the people we were arrested together with. We thank you, dear sister, for your courage,” further read the statement.

This is not the first time Sikhala has been jailed over political issues. The Zengeza West legislator was arrested and jailed for more than six weeks together with Chin’ono in 2020 over tweeting about corruption.

Accordingly, Sikhala and Sithole gave special thanks to Chin’ono for the role he is playing in denouncing their arrest. They also thanked MPs Temba Mliswa and Rusty Markham.

“Hopewell Chin’ono, dear brother, thank you for the tireless work that you have been doing for us. We understand that, under the current political set up, it is difficult to do so. You stood by us from the very first day, and we hear you have continued to drum up funds for the welfare of our families.

“Thank you for all the financial initiatives and thanks to Zimbabweans all over the world for all your contributions. Without you, it would have been extremely difficult for our families to survive in our absence.

“On numerous occasions, we have heard the roars of our colleagues in Parliament, the Honourable Themba Mliswa and the Honourable Rusty Markham. We appreciate your efforts, brothers, in demanding justice in our case.

“It is heartwarming to know that you understand and appreciate our inner pain and are actively doing something about it.

“Our brothers Jacob Ngarivhume, Godfrey Tsenengamu, and other voices of reason from different political persuasions, thank you for the very important role that you are playing.

“We extend our special appreciation to voices from both the regional and international community. Our brother in Zambia, Joseph Kalimbwe, and other regional progressive minds, thank you so much for standing with us during this difficult time.

“We will also mention at this juncture diplomatic voices that have expressed concern over the breakdown of the rule of law in Zimbabwe. Thank you.”

The legislators acknowledged the role being played by Freeman Chari and the media in exposing the regime and calling for their release.

“To Freeman Chari: Thank you brother for initiating the 2nd of August “Wiwa Day”. The results were tremendous and we will never forget. The friends of Job Sikhala Trust have also done amazing things for us and our families, which we appreciate.

“Last but not least, we want to thank members of the progressive media, both local and international, who have brought to light our persecution. . Finally, to all Zimbabweans, thank you so much for the continued support. This persecution shall come to an end. We love you and may the dear Lord bless you.

“We remain resolute. We reiterate that we did not commit any crime. We are here because of our will and commitment to a better Zimbabwe. We continue to appreciate the work our legal team is doing. They have our full support,” further stated the letter.