245 days in prison, Sikhala’s ‘biggest worry is about his wife and children’
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s fierce critic and opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) MP Job Sikhala has spent more than 245 days incarcerated over what his friends describe as frivolous charges and persecution.
Jailed on June 14 over charges of inciting public violence and obstructing the course of justice, the Zengeza West legislator has equally spent more than seven months without trial and being denied bail.
A number of CCC leaders are also going to court every week on other charges which stem mainly from holding party activities.
The party’s interim vice president Tendai Biti on Monday said Sikhala’s “biggest worry is about his wife and children”.
“We were back in court again on our never-ending charges. We have been in court on at least 65 occasions since Dec 2020. Job Sikhala was also in the same court. His biggest worry is about his wife and children. He remains in jovial spirit despite spending 9 months in prison,” Biti said.
The jailed pro-democracy activist was even not allowed to see his family during the Christmas and New Year holidays. Reports also claim that he has been blocked several times from consulting his doctors.
Sikhala has since made an application demanding prison officials to release some of his medications that they allegedly confiscated.
He was arrested on June 14 last year together with fellow MP Godfrey Sithole and the 14 members of Nyatsime. They were all charged with incitement to commit public violence to avenge the murder of CCC activist Moreblessing Ali.
Others were granted bail respectively but Sikhala’s more than 19 times bail applications were denied.
CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere accused the ruling Zanu-PF party of having a hand in the alleged persecution of Sikhala.
She said: “Free Sikhala: Our Lawyer, Hon Job Sikhala has spent 244 days in prison without trial. He was arrested on 14 June 2023. He’s being persecuted by the regime in Harare for legally representing my sister Moreblessing Ali who was murdered by Zanu-PF for her politics.”
The arrest of opposition activists is happening when the country is due to hold elections in less than five months.
Commentators say the continued suppression of dissent will result in the political environment being deemed uneven ahead of the plebiscite.