Outspoken former Zanu PF youth leader Jim Kunaka has accused Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) president Nelson Chamisa of deliberate failure to step up calls for Job Sikhala’s release out of fear the firebrand party politician would overthrow him if he was free.
Sikhala has been languishing at Chikurubi Maximum Prison since his arrest June 14 this year.
He had his bail application denied for the umpteenth time by a Harare magistrate on Tuesday, raising more concerns of a strong political hand meddling in his legal nightmares.
However, speaking in Harare Wednesday at a news conference called under the banner of the newly formed Friends of Job Sikhala Solidarity Trust, Kunaka threw the cat among the pigeons, accusing Chamisa of sacrificing one of his most politically ambitious lieutenants.
“We know the dynamics of power in CCC. There is one who is afraid that Job Sikhala will take power away from him.
“Gentlemen, when we have reached such a critical stage, let us forget about power. It’s useless to want power, sacrificing one of your own, simply because you are afraid they will overtake you.
“All MPs are quiet, going to parliament business drinking tea, mixing and mingling with the likes of Ziyambi Ziyambi, failing to tell that minister of justice to remove his hand he put in the judiciary,” Kunaka said.
Sikhala and over a dozen CCC activists have been languishing in remand prison for over two months on charges related to the violence that rocked Nyatsime in the aftermath of party activist Moreblessing Ali’s shock murder by alleged Zanu PF suspects May this year.
The opposition is under fire for failure to invent effective solutions to end its activists’ jail nightmares amid claims of interference into their prosecution.
In past comments, CCC national spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere denied claims that the party has abandoned the activists.
Mahere blamed police and the courts for allegedly standing between the activists and their constitutionally guaranteed rights.
She stated that no amount of street protests would result in the release of the party loyalists she claimed were victims of a judiciary system that was taking orders from politicians.
Kunaka concurred President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration was indeed manipulating the courts to keep the activists, now commonly referred to as the Nyatsime 16, in jail.
“You can blame judges and magistrates, but I don’t give them the blame. It’s not their fault; they are being controlled.
“For example, yesterday (Tuesday), you witnessed Sikhala’s record being tossed from court 8 and 14 because the magistrate was simply waiting for a directive to give Sikhala bail or not.
“To the leaders of CCC, if you are now being overwhelmed and do not know the trajectory to take concerning this matter, please step aside and the real citizens will take the lead and will see if Sikhala will not be released from prison,” Kunaka said.
He said the activists’ continued incarceration had all to do with attempts to punish them for their opposition association as Zanu PF linked persons such as legislators Mayor Justice Wadyajena and Priscilla Mupfumira as well as Henrietta Rushwaya have easily been bailed by the same courts free of any hassles despite facing high level corruption.
Added Kunaka, “Mnangagwa, please remove your hand from the judiciary. Can you leave the judiciary to perform its duties without political influence from you … we demand as soon as possible, the release of the Nyatsime 16 without any conditions.
“We will continue to push, this is just the beginning.”