What You Need to Know:
Job Sikhala, 51, former leader of Zimbabwe’s Citizens Coalition for Change Party (CCC) was today handed a two-year suspended sentence for inciting violence.
Sikhala had already spent 600 days on remand in Chikurubi Maximum-security prison in the capital Harare for obstruction of justice and inciting his supporters to violence in 2022. Another CCC member, Godfrey Sithole was also charged for inciting violence.
The pair are expected to be sentenced next week.
The charges stem from the murder of CCC activist MoreBlessing Ali in May 2022 by Pius Jamba, a member of the ruling ZANU PF party.
ZANU PF has continuously denied the allegation, although Pius was sentenced to 30 years for Ali’s murder in December 2023.
A Magistrate in Harare charged Sikhala and Sithole with inciting violence by ‘ferrying CCC supporters to Ali’s memorial service, which then resulted in clashes between ZANU PF and CCC supporters.’
For many years, the CCC has faced various efforts to weaken its supporter base.
In November 2023, the party lost 18 parliamentary seats after Sengezo Tshabangu, claiming to be the party’s Acting General Secretary sent a letter to Parliament announcing that 15 deputies had left the party. CCC leader Nelson Chamiso asked Parliament to not take the fraudulent letter into account, but Parliament removed the members anyway.
A month prior, the same method was used to remove 15 CCC members from their posts.
Chamisa resigned from the party five days ago, claiming “The original CCC idea has however been contaminated, bastardized, hijacked by ZANU PF through the abuse of State institutions.”
FELLOW CITIZENS, This is to officially, and under my hand, inform you, that, with immediate effect, I no longer have anything to do with CCC.
My focus remains fully on Zimbabwe, asserting your victory, honoring the citizens mandate and God’s calling to provide leadership.… pic.twitter.com/amUrxI2ED2
— nelson chamisa (@nelsonchamisa) January 25, 2024
Various CCC members have been killed or forcibly disappeared in recent years, with 51-year old Tapfumaneyi Masaya killed by ‘unidentified assailants’ while campaigning for the CCC in November last year.
Furthermore, according to a 2022 Human Rights Watch article, “the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Amendment Bill 2022, commonly known as the “Patriotic Bill,” which took effect in July, contains overly broad provisions that criminalize the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association.
Politicians from the main opposition party, the Citizens Coalition for Change, have been held in prolonged pre-trial detention or convicted on baseless, seemingly politically motivated charges.”