The government claims opposition lawmaker, Job Sikhala, who has clocked over 100 days in prison on allegations of inciting violence, violated past bail conditions, thereby denying him new bail petitions.
Sikhala is said to have been arrested 67 times but has no single conviction.
On June 14, 2022, Sikhala, and several activists including another MP Godfrey Sithole, were arrested in Nyatsime after attending the funeral of political activist Moreblessing Ali, whose mutilated body was discovered after she had been missing for three weeks.
Both MPs, who are senior members of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) have so far had their bail applications denied by the courts.
Their continued detention with other ‘Nyatsime’ activists has been described by human rights defenders as an effort to persecute and silence political opposition.
Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Ziyambi Ziyambi said bail requirements must be met and that the opposition must not abuse the courts for political expediency.
“However, my understanding is that you are on bail on a specific case and there are conditions that are attached to that. If you violate your bail conditions then the bail will not be granted should you commit another offence. That is the general principle,” he said while answering questions at the Senate on Thursday from Senators who wanted to know how the government was handling this matter.
“The individual so concerned, my understanding which I just read, not to say that I was schooled by the Judiciary from going to ask about judicial decision but that is not my duty; the decision of the courts was on the basis of the fact that a bail was granted, bail conditions were violated and that is the reason to deny bail.”
Initially, the justice minister remarked he could not interrogate judicial decisions, nor question judgements as well.
“Even when I question, you also indicate that the Minister is now interfering with their area of jurisdiction. However, sometimes I comment as an ordinary citizen who is just aggrieved but not to say that I can get into details of asking why you are giving this particular decision and why you are not doing this particular decision,” said Ziyambi who added that he would not be very competent to question judicial decision.
Ziyambi added that superiors cannot direct judges or magistrates on how to deal with cases.
“They must enjoy their independence when they are dispensing that particular case. So, I submit that the general rule or advice is for us not to play politics but to follow court rules when we are in courts and then when we are outside or in this august House, we can then use the rules that pertain to what we do here,” he said.
“When we are in court, sometimes as politicians, we must refrain from abusing the courts for political expediency.”