Former opposition Zengeza Member of Parliament, Job Sikhala, says he will embark on “Thank You” rallies for the support he received from ordinary citizens across the country while he was in detention.
Sikhala was released on Wednesday night after spending nearly two years at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison for inciting public violence.
He was arrested in June 2022 and charged alongside fellow politician, Godfrey Sithole.
They were convicted last week for allegedly inciting Citizen Coalition for Change supporters to riot and avenge the death of murdered party activist, Moreblessing Ali.
On Wednesday night, Sikhala received a hero’s welcome as hundreds filled the streets of Chitungwiza after news spread that he had been released.
Armed police had to disperse singing and cheering supporters and well-wishers, including his army of lawyers who included Harrison Nkomo, Doug Coltart and Jeremiah Bamu.
In the moment of euphoria, Sikhala declared he would be going around Zimbabwe for thank you rallies and reassure his supporters that he is more than ready to continue the political struggle.
“Let me have some time to rest and then the organising secretary will meet and see how we are going to move throughout Zimbabwe, to thank them (people),” Sikhala said.
“We are not going out to go and see them; we are going out to go and thank the people of Zimbabwe for the great solidarity that they gave me during the period of my incarceration.”
Government critics and the opposition believe Sikhala had faced political persecution for his hard line stance against Zanu PF and President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s misrule.
While incarcerated, reports emerged that the politician was seriously ill amid fears of food poisoning.
Zimbabweans at home and abroad once petitioned Mnangagwa to intervene to secure his release after several of his bail applications hit a dead end after Mnangagwa’s handlers said the President could not intervene in respect of the principle of separation of powers.
Some quarters also sought the intervention of the Southern African Development Community over Sikhala’s case without success.
Sikhala said he was indebted for the support he received while in detention.
“Zimbabweans have been wonderful, both inside and in the diaspora,” he said.
“They stood with me, through and through and we must thank them.
“We must visit and they see me ‘that man whom they were crying that God should intervene’ is out and also to reassure them that no matter the amount of persecution that I can go through I am prepared to suffer any consequences for the good of my country.”
Meanwhile, Ali’s family said yesterday that they were waiting for Sikhala on the way forward regarding the long-awaited burial arrangements of the activist, who went missing on May 24, 2022, and her body was found a little over two weeks later on June 11, after being murdered by Pius Mukandi, alias Jamba, who has since been jailed for 30 years.
The family had vowed that her remains will not be buried until their lawyer, Sikhala, was freed.
Ali’s son, Silence said they were yet to contact Sikhala to discuss his mother’s burial arrangements.
“We are yet to discuss with Sikhala on the way forward in terms of burying Moreblessing Ali,” Silence said .
Sikhala later posted on X (formerly WhatsApp) on the matter saying: “This issue needs to come to closure. I am engaging my clients, the Ali family, to make arrangements for her burial as soon as possible.”
Ali’s body was retrieved from a well at a homestead in Manyame. Her body had been hacked to pieces, with her intestines packed in a plastic bag.
In 2022, suspected State operatives were allegedly accused of trying to influence a small group in the family to secretly bury the activist.
However, the plans were scuttled in the last minute after fierce resistance from family members, who threatened legal action.