THERE was chaos in Parliament during Thursday’s National Assembly sitting after Mutare Central MP, Ian Tinashe Gonese, referred to legislator Job Sikhala’s incarceration as selective application of the law. Gonese was raising a point on how the law is selectively applied.
“I rise on a matter of national public importance which is predicated upon the provisions of our constitution, in particular, section 56 which provides that no one should be treated in a discriminatory manner, that persons are expected to have equality before the law. It therefore follows that we should not be having selective application of the law,” said Gonese.
“I am concerned that we are increasingly seeing cases, situations where it appears that these principles are not being upheld. We have the case of honourable Job Sikhala who has been incarcerated at Chikurubi Maximum Prison. The principle of our law is that we have a Harare Remand . . .,” he added.
Gonese was chucked out of the House by Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda after minutes of back-and-forth exchanges of words between him and the speaker, as well as heckling from ruling party MPs. Mudenda said matters before the courts are not to be discussed in Parliament.
“Can you switch off your mic please? Honourable Gonese, as a learned lawyer, you are aware that any matter that is before the courts is sub judice and there are procedures and avenues for raising such issues by the concerned honourable member and that due process needs to be followed outside this House,” said Mudenda.
“I said I ruled before. Do not approach the chair. Can you sit down, I ruled that nobody should approach the chair. Can you sit down. Sergeant-at-Arms, take him out! Honourable Gonese, can you leave the House,” he added.
Sikhala was arrested in mid-June 2022, and has been in detention for half a year now, for allegedly inciting public violence in Nyatsime, where he had gone to address members of his Citizens’ Coalition for Change who had come for a prayer meeting to honour a party member, Moreblessing Ali, who had been gruesomely murdered.
He also stands accused of obstruction of justice in the investigations of the murder of Ali by allegedly making utterances that the alleged killer is a Zanu PF member. The embattled Sikhala, who has been in detention for half a year now, could be spending the festive season behind bars as his latest application to scrap the obstruction charge was dismissed.
Magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa, who is presiding over the case, said the charges were clear, and that Sikhala had raised triable issues. Sikhala, represented by Jeremiah Bamu, said his client wanted the charge scrapped because it is not consistent with the laws of the country.
“He filed an exception to the charge citing that there is no offence on which he should stand trial. The papers and the allegations that have been levelled against him do not disclose any offence at all in terms of the existing laws of Zimbabwe,” said Bamu.
Trial began on 5 December 2022, and, on that day they filed the exception. The magistrate ruled that she would dispose of the exception first before proceeding to try the matter. Sikhala’s other case in which he stands co-accused with Chitungwiza North MP Godfrey Sithole of inciting public violence in Nyatsime, will be back in court on 11 January 2023 pending a High Court review of Magistrate Miti’s denial to recuse herself from the trial of the duo.
Meanwhile, his wife, Ellen Sikhala, who was arrested in September 2022 for driving against traffic while rushing to see her husband at Chikurubi Maximum Prison, was convicted of the offence on Wednesday and ordered to pay a fine.