A youth leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Nelson Chamisa has been arrested on allegations of inciting people to rise up against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
Youth Assembly secretary-general Gift Ostallos Siziba allegedly urged members of the public to rebel against the Zanu PF government, which he claimed was failing to run the country currently facing serious economic problems.
In a statement, the MDC said Siziba went to Harare Central Police Station’s Criminal Investigation Department (Law and Order Section) Wednesday morning accompanied by his lawyers, Moses Nkomo and Agency Gumbo.
“The police refused to release him into their custody pending his appearance in court tomorrow (Thursday). The charges arise from remarks he allegedly made at a rally in Glen Norah in Harare on Sunday.”
Police were not available for comment.
His arrest comes at a time the party’s vice chairperson, Job Sikhala, is facing charges of attempting to subvert a constitutionally-elected government.
According to the MDC, “Hon. Sikhala did not show up at court and the police have not bothered to explain his whereabouts. Hon. Sikhala is facing trumped-up charges of subverting a constitutionally elected government. Hon. Sikhala and Siziba’s detention expose the callous nature of Mnangagwa’s administration, which has been trying to hoodwink Zimbabweans and the international community that they are different from the oppressive regime of former president Robert Mugabe.
“The detention of the two MDC senior officials, the recent clamp-down on civil society activists and MPs have exposed this regime for what it really is. The brutal murder of innocent Zimbabweans on August 1, 2018 and in January 2019 have shown that Mnangagwa has never been a reformist, contrary to his posturing to the world and to the diplomatic community. In short, this is not in any way a Second Republic but a brutal continuation of the First.”
On allegations that Sikhala was missing following his arrested Tuesday, the Ministry of Information said in a tweet, “We have noted Media Reports alleging that Hon Sikhala is missing. Those reports are inaccurate. The courts have directed that his case should be tried in Bikita. Hon Sikhala is being transported by the police to Bikita where the alleged crime was committed.”
Sikhala allegedly said the MDC would overthrow Mnangagwa’s government before the next general elections. The government claimed that these remarks, made in public in Masvingo province recently, were treasonous.
Human rights lawyer Dewa Mavhinga criticized the government for arresting MDC activists and others for allegedly attempting to subvert a constitutionally-elected government.
In a tweet, Mavhinga said, “A country's economic & social progress is inextricably intertwined with its political & human rights fortunes. Not open for business unless open for good governance & human rights.”
At least 22 people, including some civil society leaders who attended a meeting on non-violent protests and were arrested soon after arriving back home a couple of weeks ago, are facing charges of attempting to subvert a constitutionally-elected government.
Some opposition leaders like the late Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo, the late Ndabaningi Sithole of Zanu (Ndonga) and the late MDC founding president Morgan Tsvangirai and some of their followers once faced similar charges under former president Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF government.