Masvingo, (New Ziana) – Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) national deputy chairperson, Job Sikhala was on Friday acquitted of subversion charges he was facing by the Masvingo High Court.
The charges related to threats he made at a party rally last July in Bikita to remove the government from office before its current term of office ends in 2023. The state argued this constituted a threat to subvert a constitutionally-elected government.
But in court Sikhala’s lawyers argued his remarks were directed at President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose election in the 2018 election the MDC disputes, and not the government.
Further, they argued the MDC leader wanted to employ peaceful means to remove the President from power, such as impeachment in parliament where Sikhala is a member.
The state, however, argued President Mnangagwa, as head of government, could not be separated from it, and therefore the subversion charge was validly applied.
But Justice Garainesu Mawadze said the state, as much as the defendant had admitted to making the threats, had failed to prove Sikhala had intended to use illegal means to carryout his threat, and acquitted him.
The judge also took a swipe at lead state prosecutor, a Zvakare for not only making submissions late, but also not ensuring these did not contain grammatical errors that distorted the contextual meaning of some key statements.
“The submissions by Mr. Zvakare which were submitted late could not convince me enough because of a number of reasons. Besides the poor construction and grammatical errors, the words were not contextualized.
Also the utterances no matter how fearful they sound, they don’t actually mean incitement of violence, and Zvakare sought to perceive what he thought he meant, words should speak for themselves,” said Justice Mawadze.
Meanwhile, court proceedings were briefly disrupted as police battled to control large numbers of MDC supporters who had converged around the court building for the verdict. They used water cannons and tear smoke to subdue the restive crowds.