Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa said the party has reached out to the United Nations and regional bodies to intervene over the pre-trial incarceration of lawmakers Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole.
The two men are being held without bail alongside 14 others, accused of instigating violence in Nyatsime, Chitungwiza, in June. They deny the charges.
“We have done everything legally to attain their release. We will not disclose what we are doing, as we have reached out to those in the region, outside the continent and the United Nations to make sure this incarceration is dealt with,” Chamisa said in Harare on Thursday, speaking at the launch of his party’s Electoral Reform Blueprint (PREPARE).
Sikhala said the refusal by the courts to grant bail to Sikhala, Sithole and their co-accused was “a very sad developments in our country.”
“June 14, 2022, our MPs Sikhala and Sithole were arrested and this day is the 105th, they’re still incarcerated together with the majority of the victims, the Nyatsime 14,” Chamisa said.
“What is clear is that there is assault on democracy and the will of the people, and also the undermining of the sovereign declaration of the people of Zimbabwe. Sikhala and Sithole were elected by the people of Zimbabwe, they are not honourable by mistake or omission.
“You don’t treat honourable members like common criminals especially on the basis of just an allegation, an allegation which is politically contrived and motivated. They did not commit any offence. Their own offence is to stand against repression, oppression, corruption, dictatorship, tyranny and bad governance.”
Chamisa has sometimes come under criticism for not doing enough to pressure the Zanu PF government to release the 16. He maintained that he was “taking this issue seriously.”
“We have left no stone unturned, we know what our opponents are expecting us to do, we don’t normally accept invitations or advice from those who don’t like us,” he said.
Human rights lawyers have lodged a complaint with the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) over the ill-treatment of Sikhala and Sithole, whose trial is set for November 15.