Zimbabwean Opposition Leader Receives Nine-Month Jail Sentence


Zimbabwean Opposition Leader Receives Nine-Month Jail Sentence

Zimbabwean opposition figure Job Sikhala has been slapped with a fine and a nine-month suspended prison sentence for his conviction on charges of spreading false information through social media. Harare magistrate Feresi Chakanyuka delivered the sentence to the former Zengeza West legislator on Thursday, with the condition that he refrain from committing a similar offense.

In addition to the suspended prison term, Sikhala has been fined US$500, with a deadline for payment set at March 4, 2024. Failure to pay by this date will result in a two-month imprisonment.

Reacting to the court’s decision, Sikhala’s legal representative, Harrison Nkomo, argued that his client should never have been prosecuted under a law that the top court had long declared unconstitutional. Nkomo announced plans to file an appeal, expressing dissatisfaction with the judgment and highlighting the absence of a legal basis for the conviction.

Job Sikhala, an outspoken official associated with the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change party and a former member of parliament, is widely regarded as a symbol of resistance against Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party and President Emmerson Mnangagwa. His legal troubles began in June 2022 when he was arrested in connection with the killing and dismembering of an activist from his party named Ali.

Sikhala vehemently denied the charges, asserting that he was acting as the family’s legal representative, assisting in the search for Ali, whose body parts were later discovered in a well. In January, the 52-year-old politician was convicted in connection with this case and received a suspended sentence. Legal experts interpreted this as paving the way for Sikhala’s release from the notorious Chikurubi maximum security prison, where he had spent nearly two years in pre-trial detention on unrelated charges.

Accusing the government of manipulating the judiciary for political ends, Sikhala faces another court appearance on Friday concerning separate charges. His case underscores concerns about the alleged weaponization of the courts in Zimbabwe.


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