By- Over 48 000 people, including Zimbabweans and foreigners, have signed a petition calling for Harare to end persecution on opposition legislators Job Sikhala, Godfrey Sithole and 14 others.
The petition was generated on September 9 by the Platform for Concerned Citizens (PCC) led by, among others, academic Ibbo Mandaza, businessmen Strive Masiyiwa and Mutumwa Mawere, author Tsitsi Dangarembga, scholars Tony Reeler, Philani Zamchiya, politician Simba Makoni and Alpha Media Holdings chairman Trevor Ncube.
“It is evident that the petition has unveiled the concerns of Zimbabwean citizens about the denial of bail and continued incarceration of these Zimbabweans. At the time of writing this petition, 48 092 people have joined and signed,” partly read a follow-up petition submitted to the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda yesterday.
The initial petition had just over 100 signatories.
“The vast majority of those who have signed are Zimbabweans, both from within the country and from the diaspora, but they have been joined by the citizens of many other countries. In short, the petition has world-wide concern, and people are continuing to sign,” the petition added.
Sikhala has spent over 100 days in remand prison since his arrest on June 14 charged with incitement to violence following violent skirmishes at the funeral of murdered opposition activist Moreblessing Ali.
He is charged alongside fellow opposition legislator Sithole and 14 other Nyatsime residents.
They have been denied bail countless times. Sikhala said he was facing political persecution for speaking out against human rights abuses.
But the courts insist that he is a repeat offender when denying him bail.
Recently, Information permanent secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana said government would not intervene in Sikhala’s case citing separation of power between the Judiciary and the Executive.
“Today, we have informed the President about the progress of the petition and the very large number of Zimbabweans (who) believe there is a miscarriage of justice. It is our hope that the President will understand the concerns of the citizens of Zimbabwe and makes plain the commitment of the government of Zimbabwe to constitutionalism and the rule of law, and we shortly see this miscarriage of justice being rapidly corrected,” Mandaza said.
“In our statement we made plain that we do not expect your Excellency to directly interfere in the operations of the Zimbabwean courts, but rather to insist that your government directs its agencies to strictly follow the Constitution and the laws of the country.
“Here we would additionally point out that many lawyers in the country do not believe that the denial of bail and continued incarceration of these people is warranted on the facts as these are publicly available.”