OPPOSITION leader Nelson Chamisa yesterday railed against President Emmerson Mnangagwa for the wave of arrests targeting opposition and civic society leaders and vowed that his Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) would resist the onslaught.
CCC legislators Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole have spent almost a month behind prison bars charged with inciting public violence after protests that followed the discovery of activist Moreblessing Ali’s mutilated body after she was abducted in May in Nyatsime near Chitungwiza.
Ali’s mutilated body was found in a deep well. Sikhala was appointed by her family to act as their lawyer as they demanded justice.
The two legislators were denied bail by the High Court last week.
Civil society leaders have also been targeted with Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) leader Obert Masaraure being arrested for the second time on Friday.
Masaraure, who was arrested for the second time in less than a month recently spent many days in remand prison after he was arrested in connection with the death of an activist, Roy Issa in 2016.
Artuz secretary-general Robson Chere was arrested soon after Masaraure’s release over the same matter.
An inquest into Issa’s death ruled out foul play.
Chamisa told The Standard in an exclusive interview yesterday that CCC would not stand by while its members were being victimised.
“It’s most painful when it’s about to happen, when we are about to break through. The darkest hour is near dawn,” Chamisa said.
“We have made a point and we continue to insist on that point that it’s clear persecution of political voices in Zimbabwe.
“Our law protects citizens as innocent until proven guilty.
“But something is rotten in our government politics and leadership.
“It’s self-evident, but we cannot continue to be spectators. It’s an ugly turn of events.
“We have a duty to correct our problems.
“At the end of the day Zimbabweans are the answer to their own problems. We are the solution to our various challenges.”
Human rights watchdogs have expressed fears of a violent 2023 election campaign, citing the violence that characterised the run-up to the March 26 by-elections.
On several occasions, the CCC was barred from holding its rallies.
A Kwekwe CCC activist Mboneni Ncube was stabbed to death with a spear at a rally addressed by Chamisa in February.
The CCC leader said the international community was aware of what was happening in Zimbabwe.
“Zimbabweans are watching, the world is watching, the Southern African Development Community is seeing it. The African Union is seeing it too,” he added.
“The law has been turned upside down.
“We will leave no stone unturned to correct the situation.
“We have emphasised it, not out of weakness but out of wisdom and strength to know that peace comes at a premium.
“When we have it we must not abuse it or waste it.”
Mnangagwa is accused of using state institutions to close down the democratic space in Zimbabwe ahead of the 2023 elections.
After narrowly winning the 2018 elections against Chamisa amid allegations of vote rigging, the 79 year-old ruler will be seeking a second full term after coming into power through a coup against Robert Mugabe in 2017.
A June 2022 Afrobarometer poll showed that 33% of surveyed Zimbabweans would vote for Chamisa against 30% for Mnangagwa if elections were held now.
— The Standard