By Amnesty International
The continued arbitrary detention of opposition leader and Member of Parliament Job Sikhala and MP Godfrey Sithole is revealing of the politicized justice system in Zimbabwe, Amnesty International said today, 100 days since their incarceration.
“The ongoing arbitrary detention of Sikhala and Sithole is unjust and abusive. It has caused unspeakable emotional distress to them and their families,” said Lucia Masuka, Executive Director of Amnesty International Zimbabwe.
“Zimbabwean authorities cannot continue to incarcerate Sikhala and Sithole on trumped up charges. They must be released immediately and unconditionally.”
Sikhala and Sithole were arrested on 14 June 2022 after attending the funeral of political activist, Moreblessing Ali, who was missing for three weeks before being found murdered and her body mutilated on 11 June 2022.
Zimbabwean authorities have accused the MPs of encouraging their supporters to cause violence in Nyatsime, Chitungwiza, during Ali’s memorial. They are facing charges of inciting violence and were denied bail when they appeared in the magistrates court. Several appeals for bail have since been rejected.
As critics of the government and members of the opposition are frequently harassed and arrested, Amnesty International believes that the charges against Sikhala and Sithole, and the denial of their bail, is an effort to persecute and silence political opposition by the Zimbabwean authorities.
“The continued incarceration of Sikhala and Sithole is a travesty of justice. They are victims of a government hellbent on silencing opposition voices,” said Lucia Masuka.
“Zimbabwean authorities must stop criminalizing dissent and instead create a conducive environment for people to freely express themselves.”
NOTE: Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole are senior members of the country’s main opposition party Citizen’s Coalition for Change. Sikhala is the chairman and Godfrey Sithole is MP for Chitungwiza North. They have been arbitrarily detained for 100 days, sometimes without access to lawyers.