A United Kingdom Member of Parliament, Lord Jonathan Oates Wednesday 28 September 2022 asked what the UK government was doing with regard to the prolonged detention of opposition MP Job Sikhala.
Sikhala was arrested in June together with a fellow legislator, Godfrey Sithole and 14 Nyatsime residents over public violence which erupted in Nyatsime on 14 June during the funeral wake of slain Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) activist Moreblessing Ali.
They have been in prison since then with courts denying them bail on several occasions.
Responding to Oates’ question, the Minister of State in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Lord Goldsmith said his government was monitoring the detention of the political activists. Goldsmith said:
The former Minister for Africa met with the Foreign Minister of Zimbabwe on 30 June and reiterated the importance of all political parties respecting the rule of law, refraining from violence and respecting the right of others’ to campaign freely ahead of upcoming elections in 2023.
The CCC party has often argued that its members were being detained for political reasons to force their party.
Law expert Professor Lovemore Madhuku said Sikhala and others were “victims of their party’s refusal to join the Political Actors Dialogue,” a platform initiated by President Emmerson Mnangagwa for parties that participated in the 2018 elections to engage in dialogue.
Meanwhile, about 52 000 people have signed a petition calling for the release of Sikhala and his colleagues.
The State says it has almost completed investigations into their case and they should stand trial on 15 November.