Zimbabwe: Sikhala Mobilises Backers As Trial Opens Today

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27 January 2020

MDC Alliance vice chair Job Sikhala, whose trial on subversion charges kicks-off at the Masvingo High Court today, is allegedly planning to bus hordes of party supporters to create an intimidating atmosphere at the court.

Party supporters involved in the plot are reportedly coalescing under the "Friends of Job Sikhala" banner.

Sikhala was indicted to stand trial for subversion after allegedly threatening to unseat President Mnangagwa's constitutionally elected Government, while addressing a rally in Bikita last year.

The legislator allegedly told MDC supporters at the rally that his party was going to overthrow the ruling Zanu-PF Government before 2023 when fresh polls were due.

He is out of custody on $5 000 bail coupled with stringent conditions.

His trial is expected to run from January 27 to 30.

Judicial Service Commission (JSC) secretary Mr Walter Chikwanha said he was not aware of the move, but stressed that local courts were open to everyone.

He said only those who could be accommodated in the courtroom would be allowed to follow proceedings inside.

"Our courtrooms can only accommodate a certain number of people and our courts are open to everyone but we will not allow standing. We don't also prescribe the type of dressing save to say those in the courtroom should be decently dressed," said Mr Chikwanha.

He said it was the duty of the ZRP to make sure there was order outside the courtroom.

"The JSC is responsible for what happens in the courtroom but the responsibility of maintaining order outside the courtroom lies with the police. The police are there to make sure there is order and proceedings in the courtroom are not interfered with by people outside."

MDC-Alliance Masvingo provincial chair Mr James Gumbi denied there were divisions in his party over Sikhala's trial.

He said he was not aware of ongoing mobilisation of party supporters to give Sikhala solidarity during his trial.

"If there is something like that going on, it is being done by people in their individual capacities.

"There is nothing wrong after all, in giving our vice chair solidarity but there is no official mobilisation."

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