Government has been told to stop targeting activists, opposition leaders, journalists and civic society using the judiciary system.
In a statement released yesterday, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition spokesperson Marvelous Khumalo said Government has weaponised the judiciary in persecution of advocates for democracy.
“The State, through judicial capture, has curtailed the right to liberty and this has resulted in opposition and civil society activists being arrested on frivolous charges spending lengthy periods in detention with the courts denying them bail despite the lack of compelling reasons,” he said.
“The Magistrate Courts have been the biggest disappointment and this has been proved by the fact that in most of the appeals for bail at the High Court by the incarcerated activists, the High court has proved that the lower courts are misdirecting themselves in the bail rulings.”
Some of those who were denied bail by the Magistrate Courts only to be granted bail at the High Court include MDC Alliance legislator and Vice Chairperson Job Sikhala, and outspoken journalist Hopewell Chin’ono.
“As the Crisis Coalition, we are appalled by the apparent fact that the Magistrate Courts in Zimbabwe have been turned into a weapon to persecute dissenting voices in the country,” said Khumalo.
“The lower courts have on numerous occasions frustrated bail applications by incarcerated activists and in the process, depriving them of their right to liberty.
“In the case of incarcerated Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) activist, Allan Moyo, the High Court in mid-January 2021 dismissed his bail application on the grounds that his court records from the Magistrates Court were in shambles.”
Moyo was arrested on December 7, 2020, on charges of inciting public violence and on January 28, 2021, the High Court dismissed his bail application again on the basis that his appeal was defective.
Khumalo said Government and ruling party officials are quickly released on bail while the opposition and activists are unnecessarily punished.
“How cases of detained activists are being handled is different from those of Government and ruling party officials who have been implicated in corruption scandals involving millions of dollars,” he said.
“The most notable case is that of former Health Minister, Obadiah Moyo, who was arrested following a corruption scandal involving a US$60 million on June 19, 2020, and was granted bail the following day. Moyo was later relieved of his duties by President Mnangagwa.
“Several high-ranking officials involved in corruption scandals continue to walk scot-free while activists detained on flimsy charges have had to endure lengthy periods in detention.”