Amnesty International (AI) has called on the government of Zimbabwe to allow Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole to access their lawyers in line with their constitutional and fundamental human right.
While Sikhala is the Chairman of the Citizens Coalition for Change, Sithole is a member of the Zimbabwean parliament.
They are facing charges of inciting violence and have been denied bail and access to their lawyers.
It is understood that they were both arrested on 14 June after attending the burial of human rights and political activist, Moreblessing Ali.
‘The continued detention of Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole and the denial of their lawyers access to meet with them is an absolute travesty of justice’, AI Deputy Director for Southern Africa, Muleya Mwananyanda, said.
‘There is an emerging trend where critics of government and members of the opposition are consistently harassed and denied bail by the courts, brought to court in iron legs and at times denied access to their lawyers.
‘Yet high profile political elites facing criminal offences are in most cases treated entirely differently with bail being granted regardless of the seriousness of the offence.
‘The charges levelled against Sikhala and Sithole and the denial of bail at the magistrates court show all the hallmarks of an effort to persecute and silence political opposition by the Zimbabwean authorities.
‘The authorities should refocus their efforts on ensuring that Moreblessing Ali’s killers face justice, and ensuring access to justice and effective remedies for victims and their families’.
Freedom House ranked Zimbabwe as ‘not free’ in its 2022 Freedom in the World report on political rights and civil liberties, with the southern African country earning 28 points out of a possible 100.
Zimbabwean authorities have over the past year forced non-governmental organisation (NGOs) to register with provincial development coordinators (PDCs) and at a point announced the suspension of operations for numerous NGOs in the country.
Photo source: World Economic Forum