Opposition political parties have accused the Emmerson Mnangagwa-led regime of using lawfare and other tactics to persecute its member.
Opposition activists believe the intimidation, harassment, arrest, detention and even reprisals are not new tactics but strategies used by Mnangagwa to dominate his rivals.
These sentiments come after the arrest of Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) lawmakers Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole.
They were arrested on June 14, 2022, on allegations of inciting public violence after the murder of party activist, Moreblessing Ali and have continuously been denied bail.
Also in prison are other CCC members from Nyastime, who were arrested during skirmishes at Ali’s funeral in June.
In Bulawayo, nine members of the Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) were sentenced to three years in prison each for inciting public violence in March last year.
MRP Youth Chairperson Mongameli Mlotshwa and Welcome Moyo were sentenced to 36 months in prison while seven others were jailed for 33 months.
The seven include two women, MRP women’s National League Chairperson Sibongile Banda and Busi Moyo.
Other members are the Council of Elders representative -Tinos Nkomo, Livson Ncube, Maxwell Nkosi, Nkosilathi Ncube and Ackim Ndebele.
Interim CCC Bulawayo Provincial Spokesperson, Swithern Chirowodza claimed to persecute political rivals had always been a Mnangagwa strategy since 1980.
“A leopard never changes its spots. 42 years ago, the Chronicle Newspaper issue of November 22, 1980, had Joshua Nkomo saying that nine ZAPU officials had been arrested ‘on the orders of the minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa who is in charge of state security,’” he said, adding that soon after that, more ZAPU members were to be incarcerated.
“It must not be forgotten that after their acquittal in the treason trial of 1983 ZPRA commanders, the late Dumiso Dabengwa and Lookout Masuku suffered long incarceration without trial. Welshman Mabhena and others were detained countless times and tortured under Mnangagwa’s tenure as Minister of State Security.”
The CCC provincial spokesperson said, “the arrested included Sidney Malunga, CZ Moyo, Richard Ndlovu, Doubt Mabusa, Charles Sigangatsha, Zodwa Sibanda and Fletcher Dulini.”
“Notice the last two were founder members of the MDC in 1999. Today it is 2022, 42 years after Mnangagwa unjustly ordered the arrest of Sidney Malunga and eight ZAPU comrades and the clarion call today is free Job Sikhala and the Nyatsime 16. Sikhala has been detained for 70 days without trial just like what we had in the past. Our call is to release all political prisoners,” Chirowodza said.
The MRP leader Mqondisi Moyo concurred the arrest of their nine members at Khami and Mlondolozi prison was politically motivated.
“We agreed with our lawyers that their sentencing conviction was not legal. We believe our legal issues are determined in Harare so whenever our members are arrested, the ruling and determination of the case doesn’t lie with the local magistrate or justice personnel but lies with Zanu PF through Mnangagwa who instructs them what to do,” he said.
Moyo highlighted that most of their members were charged with inciting public violence at different occasions.
“You will realise the nine MRP members were charged with inciting of public violence, the similar charge levelled against Parton Xaba, MRP national organiser, who was sentenced to 520 hours of community service for allegedly inciting public violence in Ntabazinduna mountains,” he said.
“One wonders why the same charge can have different sentences. We also feel the nine MRP members didn’t do a similar offence, if ever it was an offence, because most of them were identified through MRP regalia after they visited Bulawayo Central Police Station to inquire about my whereabouts.”
The MRP leader bemoaned how some of their arrested members were advanced in age.
“Tinos Nkomo is over 70 years, Livson Ncube is in his late 60s while two women are of old age. There is no way they would incite public violence,” Moyo said.
“Ever since Mnangagwa took the reins in Zimbabwe, he has shown to be a hypocrite and pretender. When he took over, he said he was a listening president, that this was a Second Republic but to our surprise, Mnangagwa is worse than (the late) Robert Mugabe because of what he is doing to our members.”
Meanwhile, Moyo said their lawyers have managed to file an appeal against the sentencing and conviction of its members at the Bulawayo High Court.
“There was a delay because the court transcript was given late to our lawyers by the Bulawayo Magistrate’s Court,” he said.
“Our lawyers filed the Head of Arguments at the Bulawayo High Court last week so at any given time, they will be given a date when the appeal will be heard.”