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MP Godfrey Sithole granted US$470 bail after spending 150 days in prison

Harare magistrate Marevanazvo Gofa on Thursday finally granted ZWL300 000 (US470) bail to opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) MP Godfrey Sithole after the judiciary controversially made him spend more than 150 days in prison.

Sithole was arrested on 14 June together with Zengeza West legislator Job Sikhala and 14 residents of Nyatsime. They are accused of inciting public violence to avenge the murder of party activist Moreblessing Ali.

After several attempts to get bail at both the lower and higher courts, magistrate Gofa has finally granted the Chitungwiza North MP bail under strict conditions that include reporting twice a week to the police.

On top of paying ZWL300 000, Sithole was ordered to report twice a week at the St Mary’s police station, not to interfere with witnesses and to surrender his passport

Sikhala remains behind bars awaiting trial on 12 November 2022. The CCC vice chairman is also facing another charge of obstructing the course of justice.

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The two MPs are represented by top human rights lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa and Jeremiah Bamu. The legal counsel is advised by Human Rights NGO Forum and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).

In a statement, CCC slammed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime for persecuting opponents.

“Hon Godfrey Sithole has finally been granted bail after spending 149 days in prison without trial. In a new Zimbabwe, a person is innocent until proven guilty not vice versa like what we’re currently experiencing under Mr Mnangagwa’s regime,” CCC said on Twitter.

The release of Sithole also comes after huge outcry from people and organisations all over the world.

The Platform for Concerned Citizens (PCC) last week issued a press statement expressing concern at the continued “unlawful” incarceration of Sikhala, Sithole and the 14 members of Nyatsime.

“Unlawful arrest has become a standard tactic by the government in dealing with dissent, most particularly during elections, and subsequent denial of bail an even more egregious injustice.

“We make this point because we have entered the pre-election period, seen a huge increase in hate speech and violent rhetoric, and most disturbing of all, a dramatic rise in political violence against members of opposition political parties,” PCC said.

More than 50 000 people also signed a petition demanding the unconditional release of the opposition activists.