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Jailed Zimbabwean Lawmaker Facing Subversion Charges Freed on Bail

FILE: Job Sikhala on his way to court ...

HARARE (Reuters) - A Zimbabwean opposition politician facing charges of advocating the overthrow of President Emmerson Mnangagwa was freed on bail by the High Court on Monday after spending six days in detention, his lawyer said.

Job Sikhala, the deputy chairman of the Movement for Democratic Change, was arrested last week and charged with attempting to subvert the government, a crime that carries a 20-year jail term upon conviction. Sikhala, through his lawyers, has denied the charge.

Sikhala was given bail by a High Court judge in Masvingo, a town 300 km south of the capital, according to his lawyer, Alec Muchadehama. He will be released later on Monday after paying 5,000 Zimbabwe dollars ($570) and surrendering his passport, Muchadehama said.

The charges against Sikhala stem from a video circulating on social media, in which the politicians appears to be seen and heard telling supporters at a weekend rally: “We are going to take the fight to the doorsteps of Emmerson Mnangagwa. We are going to overthrow him before 2023. That is not a joke.”

Reuters has not been able to verify the authenticity of the video.

More than a dozen government opponents have this year faced similar charges, with critics saying this shows that under Mnangagwa, the government is reverting to harsh Robert Mugabe-era security laws to muzzle the opposition. (Reporting by Nelson Banya)