FOR the purpose of the record, I am Job Sikhala. I am advised that I stand accused of the offence of obstructing the course of justice as defined in terms section 184 sub-section 1 sub-paragraph E of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act Chapter 923.
I am 50 years old.
I have lived in this world for at least half a century, the experience of the past 50 years of my existence have nurtured within me a mature understanding of the consequences of different sets of events that occur in one’s life.
I have attended various court sessions in my capacity as a legal practitioner and also as an accused person. I have gained the full appreciation arising from that experience of the use, misuse and abuse of the legal processes.
My life has been without blemish, I have been accused of every imaginable crime in this country including allegations of subverting a constitutional government. I have always pleaded and defended my innocence. I live within the strict confines of the law.
I became a lawyer because I have faith in the words eloquently inscribed at the University of Zimbabwe Faculty of Law: “Lus est ars boni et aequi” – The law is the art of goodness and equity. I also believe in the principle that, where there is wrong, there is a remedy.
I have never taken the law into my own hands all my life, I have always been a faithful servant of the law. Through my work as a legislator, I always thrive for the promotion of laws that serves the needs of the people. I do not wish to see the law being transformed into an obstructive tool on the people by the powerful.
I was born in October 1972 in the Gutu communal lands.
I grew up under the oppressive Smith regime. Zimbabwean Independence came when I was just a young boy, 8 years of age; those were the days when freedom fighters, our fathers in the war and other villagers would sit us in the village compound and explain to us where the liberation war was being fought.
Much of what I am today was moulded on the framework of the values of freedom, equity and human dignity taught to me by my forebears. These are the values I cherish, they are the same values that made me, without hesitation, accept to represent Moreblessing Ali (MHSRIP).
Immediately following her disappearance, little did I know that I would this day be in the dock paying the price for what I thought to be a noble enterprise. I seek not my glory but the collective emancipation of all Zimbabweans and justice for the spirit of Moreblessing Ali.
Those who murdered Moreblessing Ali and those who persecute me today may last for the moment but when history chapters allow, posterity will judge me for what I truly am: a humble and obedient servant of the people, a willing instrument for the advancement of the values ubuntu, a firm believer against impunity regardless of one’s political affiliation or status in life, a legal practitioner being shackled for taking up the cause of his oppressed client who died a miserable death in the most violent way imaginable.
I grew up in the village as a simple boy, I tended our family’s crops and herded cattle with other boys of my age. Passion and determination drove me from the village to join one of the most esteemed professions the world over, that being of a legal practitioner.
Passion and determination also drove me from being a simple village boy to a public leader and granted the privilege of representing initially the people of St Mary’s and subsequently the people of Zengeza West in Zimbabwe’s house of Parliament.
My present circumstances have robbed me of the opportunity to remain of service to the electorate which bestowed the faith in me as their parliamentary representative. I have been a leader all my life, I have been interested in leadership positions since my days of primary school up to my days of university.
I had the privilege of not only leading the students at the University of Zimbabwe but I had also interest in leading students, the old tertiary institutions through the auspices of the Zimbabwe National Students’ Union.
I am a founder member of the Movement for Democratic Change led by the late Morgan Tsvangirai in September 1999. I am currently a senior political leader in Zimbabwe’s largest opposition party, the Citizens’ Coalition for Change.
I become accustomed to selfless sacrifices for the betterment of those I lead. My commitment and dedication to the national cause is a calling that I will never abdicate from, notwithstanding the persecution I encounter as I serve.
It is a dedication to strive and seek a just society where men and women, rich or poor, the powerful and the poorest, the affluent and the downtrodden, will live in equality and happiness.
The security of persons is at the core of my heart, no form of persecution and injustice will move me, not even an inch away from the cries of the people. Let me be labelled a villain today, let the murderers of Moreblessing Ali and my tormenters be the heroes of the moment; posterity will judge me.
History chapters are replete with these kinds of oppressions. Oppressors read from the same script, I am neither the first nor the last to be nailed for seeking justice for the downtrodden, that is the only crime I have committed. I did not seek to defeat justice, far from it. Justice in the eyes of the oppressor is injustice to the oppressed.
If I am guilty of seeking universal justice that is accessible and applicable to all regardless of status, let the oppressors celebrate. They have won the battle, but the war will be won by the people.
I have been in detention under solitary confinement since the 14th of June 2022, shackled in chains like a terrorist over the past 10 months I have been kept away from my family, I have been deprived of my ability to fend for my children, I have been kept away from my occupation as the representative of the people of Zengeza West, I have been kept away from my law office and prevented from representing my clients, I have been prevented from providing legal support to the grieving family of Moreblessing Ali who only desire justice to what happened to their daughter, sister, mother, cousin, friend and confidante.
Though the state extracted a conviction from its hordes of lies and unscrupulously obtained evidence, the legal issues that were before this court are basic and elementary.
It is certainly repulsive to any right thinking citizen that a crime can be born out of and sustained by allowing a police officer in the comfort of his office without having anything else to do but surfing the internet and go on YouTube and come across a video created and uploaded by enterprising content creators and therefore arrest a person who neither had knowledge of the video and is unaware of its circulation and send them to jail, more so based on the video clip on an entertainment site created and posted by unknown people seeking to provide entertainment.
This creates a dangerous precedent for our criminal justice system, those with scores to settle against others have been given a cutting branch, they can easily pay enterprising content creators to create a video of a person they have vendetta against, make an utterance that can be deemed to be offensive and leak it to our gullible police officers who have no willingness to investigate but exceeding zeal to arrest and detain.
History will be my judge, posterity will be my judge, I have no control over my fate today, I can only leave it to history to be my judge, I will let society to whom this court must bear allegiance pronounce its own verdict.
If I have strayed from any of the virtues of ubuntu, if I was wrong for me to join the call for the justice of Moreblessing Ali, if I should have refrained from offering legal representation to a family in grief, then I will gladly accept whatever consequences meted against me. I leave it to history to judge me.
My conscience is clear, my fate even my demise while shackled in the oppressor’s prisons, will not put an end to the quest for justice. The pages of history will always turn at some point to the victim’s glory. It might take decades, even centuries, but the truth will come out .
Those who came before me succeeded in removing the yoke of colonial rule, it took them close to a century to do so. I am only 50 years old, the walls of Chikurubi has been my companion and friend for over 10 months now.
Prison walls confined the iconic Nelson Mandela for 27 years, but did not confine his ideals and did not kill his spirit.
Prison walls confined several leaders of the liberation struggle, but it failed to confine the ideas they stood for. Selous cut short the lives of Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi but did not kill the ideas they stood for.
Whatever penalty that may be imposed against me will not contain the ideals of seeking justice against the callous murder of Moreblessing Ali, neither will it contain the ideal of a free, peaceful and just Zimbabwe.
I was born in a multiracial country called Rhodesia. All Africans born in that country had to fight for all human rights, but despite of all of it, my spirit was always free.
About the writer: Job Sikhala is the main Citizens’ Coalition for Change MP for Zengeza West. He is also a lawyer. Sikhala has been arrested almost 70 times, without conviction; he was only convicted for obstruction of the course of justice on Wednesday.