Harare: In a significant statement on the sidelines of the 2024 legal year’s inaugural ceremony in Harare, Zimbabwe’s Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi defended the ongoing detention of Job Sikhala, a former legislator from Zengeza West. This statement comes amidst growing international and local scrutiny over Sikhala’s near 600-day imprisonment since June 2022, on charges of inciting public violence.
The arrest followed disturbances triggered by the brutal murder of Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) activist Moreblessing Ali, who was killed by Zanu PF activist Pius Mukandi, alias Jamba. Mukandi has since been convicted, receiving a 30-year sentence for the murder and dismemberment of Ali.
Facing allegations of political bias, Minister Ziyambi emphasized the neutrality of Zimbabwe’s legal system. He pointed to Chief Justice Luke Malaba’s recent speech, which underscored the judiciary’s commitment to unbiased and fair proceedings. Ziyambi’s remarks come at a crucial time when the independence of the judiciary is under intense public scrutiny.
The CCC, through its spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi, accused the government of employing double standards in its treatment of Sikhala, labeling him a political prisoner. This accusation aligns with the stance of several human rights groups and political activists, both locally and internationally, who have been vocal in their demands for Sikhala’s release, citing a denial of justice.
Amidst these tensions, the CCC has also raised concerns over the potential influence of the Zanu PF-led government on the judiciary, a claim that adds to the complexity of the situation. In a poignant New Year message, Sikhala shared his reliance on the support of well-wishers for his family’s welfare during his incarceration, highlighting the personal impact of his ongoing legal battle.
As Zimbabwe’s legal year commences, the Sikhala case remains a focal point of debate, reflecting broader concerns about the state of justice and political freedom in the country. The government’s stance and the mounting international attention signal a contentious period ahead for Zimbabwe’s legal and political spheres.