Sikhala freedom bid flops
Harare (New Ziana) – A bid for freedom by detained Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance deputy national chairman Job Sikhala flopped on Wednesday at the Harare magistrates, and now faces trial on charges of inciting public violence.
The volatile politician was arrested last Friday, after a month on the run, and charged for allegedly helping plot last month’s failed illegal anti-government protests.
The State accuses Sikhala of being one of the key plotters of the protests, which were called by opposition parties and allied civic organisations ostensibly to register public displeasure at the government’s handling of the economy.
Ahead of the July 31 protests, the MDC Alliance top official posted a series of messages on social media, allegedly encouraging the public to take the streets inspite of a government ban.
The authorities had outlawed the planned marches on security and Covid-19 health grounds.
But Sikhala, the State alleges, ignored the ban and incited people to take part in the planned protests, which the authorities suspected was yet another opposition attempt to unseat constitutional order in the country.
He denied his social media posts amounted to incitement, and argued instead that he was merely exercising his rights of freedom of expression.
But magistrate Lanzini Ncube dismissed Sikhala’s argument, and said the State had proven its case, and remanded the politician in prison pending trial.
“Hon. Sikhala will remain in prison after Magistrate Ncube dismissed his application challenging refusal of remand. He says state succeeded in proving that there is reasonable suspicion that Hon. Sikhala committed an offence,” his legal representatives the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said.
In his freedom bid, Sikhala had also told the court that his life was in danger in remand prison from Covid-19 and death threats he had received.
But this failed to sway magistrate Ncube, who ruled Sikhala had a case to answer.
His lawyers said they will apply for bail on Thursday, in a renewed bid for freedom for the firebrand politician.