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Jonathan Moyo Castigates Judiciary Over Sikhala Detention

Self-exiled former Cabinet Minister and member of the ruling Zanu PF, Professor Jonathan Moyo has bemoaned the state of judicial independence in Zimbabwe citing the year-long pretrial detention of Zengeza West lawmaker Job Sikhala.

In an interview with South African broadcaster SABC, Prof. Moyo highlighted the case of Sikhala, who has been in pre-trial detention for over a year on allegations of inciting public violence during the funeral of slain Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) activist Moreblessing Ali.

“Some things which are happening which raise quite some concern. I really have been profoundly concerned by the return of pretrial detention. You don’t have to hold if for any politician to realize that even if it’s one case, but a case of a Member of Parliament who gets arrested for saying things that may not have been palatable to the authorities. But saying them in his capacity as a lawyer on behalf of his murdered client. And then he gets detained for a year. It becomes a little bit troubling. I’m talking about Job Sikhala.

“Zimbabwe now has these extremes. Only one extreme you have things which definitely were not happening during the Mugabe days or certainly the latter days, for example but particularly this case of Job Sikhala. It’s troubling, as a student of politics, I don’t think that the custodian of justice, rule of law are politicians anywhere in the world. If you were to leave American politicians to their own means they will be jailing each other left, right and center,” said Moyo.

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Referencing the Gukurahundi years, a period marked by grave human rights abuses in the country, Prof. Moyo said despite the political turbulence of that time, the judiciary demonstrated reliability to its constitutional duties.

“It is troubling when you find yourself in a country where the judiciary plays to the whims of the political class. During the Gukurahundi years, which were the darkest years in the history of our country there was a judiciary which was faithful to its constitutional responsibility. The politicians would fight tramp on each other’s rights but the judiciary would do its job and discharge its responsibility by pronouncing things that were either illegal or unjust in terms of what they were. In this particular case and in some way, it appears isolated but very pronounced. We had an unusual development where the Magistrate Court and the High Court are acting in concept,” he said.

The former minister lamented Sikhala’s detention for an extended period, highlighting that such a situation does not reflect well on the nation, particularly those in positions of authority, including the judiciary putting the blame on the latter.

“You don’t want to be in a country where the courts become an extension of the politics of the day. This is what I think is a bit scary alarming about the current developments. There is this quite shocking and complete collapse of judicial institutions and for me I really blame more the judiciary in the case of honorable Job Sikhala than I do the politicians,” Moyo said.

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