By Marvellous Kumalo (Crisis Coalition Spokesperson)
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is appalled by the continued weaponization of the judiciary to clamp down on dissenting voices.
Our concern arises from the continued arrests and detention of opposition and civil society activists on flimsy charges.
Yesterday, April 12, 2021, MDC Alliance Councilor for Ward 18, Chiredzi West, Gilbert Mtubuki was arrested on charges of ‘gathering with intent to cause public violence.
His arrest follows the conviction of MDC Alliance member, Makomborero Haruzivishe, who was on April 6, 2021, jailed for 14 months ‘for inciting public violence.’
During the sentencing of Haruzivishe, police arrested four MDC Alliance members at the Harare Magistrates Court for disorderly conduct. The four were denied bail yesterday, April 12, 2021, with the State claiming they have a strong case against them.
Currently, MDC Alliance Member of Parliament for Harare West, Joana Mamombe, and another party member, Cecilia Chimbiri are languishing in remand prison following their arrest last month (March 2021) after they had attended court in solidarity with Haruzivishe.
It is quite apparent that the State has adopted persecution by the prosecution as a tool to silence and victimize opposition and civil society activists and the continued arrests are part of a ploy to decimate the opposition while instilling fear among opposition supporters.
This has been worsened by the capture of the judiciary, a situation that has seen the courts acting as more of an appendage of the ruling party, Zanu PF, and in the process, aiding rights violations.
In many cases involving bail applications for incarcerated opposition and civil society activists, the High Court has often pointed a miscarriage of justice on the part of the lower courts.
We reaffirm our position that an independent judiciary is critical for a democracy to prevail and the State must guarantee the independence of the judiciary.
Judicial capture in Zimbabwe has worsened the shrinking of the democratic space while aiding the violation of fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution.
Zimbabwe’s ‘New Dispensation’, born out of a military coup in November 2017, has displayed a penchant for rights violations and this continues to taint the country’s image while working against efforts to re-engage the international community.
We implore the State to respect citizens’ fundamental rights enshrined under Chapter 4 (Declaration of Rights) of the Zimbabwean constitution and desist from persecution by prosecution.