Nyatsime 14 finally granted bail but no reprieve for Sikhala
HARARE – Fourteen CCC activists who were arrested June this year charged with public violence have finally been granted bail by the High Court amid strong signs the high profile visit to Zimbabwe by the Common Wealth assessment team could have had an indirect influence in the release of what the opposition contends are political prisoners.
Firebrand legislator Job Sikhala however remains behind bars as his trial took off this Tuesday.
“We breathe a sigh of relief but we don’t celebrate. They should never have been jailed without trial in the first place. Bail is a constitutional right. #FreeWiwa #FreeBiri,” CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere posted on her Twitter handle Tuesday.
The 14 activists, now commonly referred to as the Nyatsime 14, are being charged with the public violence that erupted in Nyatsime outside Chitungwiza town during slain party activist Moreblessing Ali’s tense funeral wake in June this year.
Ali was found dead in a well after she had allegedly been abducted by Zanu PF linked suspects.
On Tuesday, Zimbabwe’s High Court finally ordered their release after five months of detention which saw them routinely denied bail by the courts.
They were each granted $50 000 bail by High Court judge Munamato Mutevedzi.
The activists were represented by Thabani Mpofu, duly instructed by Noble Chinhanu of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.
The 14 are Chauya Shopa (41), Clever Sibanda (37), Ephrage Gwavava (35) Robert Madzokere (30), Emmanuel Muradzikwa (38), Zecks Makoni (54), Enock Tsoka (39), Shepherd Bulakasi (40) and Tatenda Pindahama (43), Zephania Chinembiri (45), Roan Tsoka (39), Misheck Guzha (62), Precious Jeche (41) and Odious Makoma (42).
CCC legislator for Chitungwiza Godfrey Sithole was also released last week after enduring 150 days in remand at Chikurubi Maximum Prison.
The release of the said political prisoners coincides with a one week long visit to the country by a Common Wealth assessment mission which flew into the country weekend to observe the country’s readiness to rejoin the grouping of former British colonies.
The upholding of human rights is key among the issues Zimbabwe needs to comply with before it could be readmitted into the Common Wealth grouping.
Zimbabwe’s opposition claims the country’s courts are “captured” by influential government forces who influence the delivery of unfavorable court outcomes for opponents and critics.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has admitted before that he has a handle in outcomes of court decisions.
August 2018, Mnangagwa wrote on his Twitter handle that he influenced the release of prominent opposition politician and legislator Tendai Biti.
Biti was arrested and handed back to Zimbabwe by Zambian authorities after the politician had attempted to skip the country when Zimbabwean police were after him for allegedly announcing results of the 2018 elections in violation of the country’s electoral laws.
Mnangagwa is keen to present to the international community, a different picture from that of late former dictator Robert Mugabe’s brutal regime.
But opponents see him as no different from his predecessor who angrily pulled the country out of the Common Wealth 2003 after being sanctioned for rights abuses, poll fraud and unbridled state corruption.