The Harare Magistrates Court on Tuesday tried to force the commencement of the trial of opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Vice Chairman Job Sikhala without his lawyers but he refused to speak.
The Zengeza West MP is charged with incitement to commit public violence to avenge the murder of CCC activist Moreblessing Ali.
His trial commenced yesterday but his lawyers were at the High Court for other cases. The Rotten Row Court refused postponement of the matter arguing that it could not work with the diary of the lawyers.
Sikhala refused to plea and the court entered a not guilty plea.
His spokesperson Freddy Masarirevu confirmed the matter on his Twitter handle.
“Drama at Rotten Row as Sikhala’s trial commences without him being represented. His legal practitioners were in the High Court and the Court refused postponement arguing that it cannot work with the diary of the lawyers. Sikhala has refused to speak. Court has entered not guilty plea, ” Masarirevu said.
Top investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono slammed the magistrate who presided over Sikhala’s case saying:
“This is so sad! Legal representation is a human right. It is also known that High Court cases take precedence over Magistrates court cases.
“Sikhala’s lawyer had a case in the High Court. So why would the magistrate ask Sikhala to proceed without a lawyer. This is so embarrassing,” he said.
Sikhala has spent more than 260 days in jail over charges of inciting public violence.
He tried to seek bail more than 11 times but he was denied.
Critics argue that the top politician is being persecuted by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime.