ED refusal to dialogue led Zim into deep crisis … Sikhala says the fight for justice is a calling
LARGER than life MDC Alliance vice chairperson Job Sikhala was last week released on bail from Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison after spending nearly five weeks in remand custody on allegations of inciting public violence before the foiled July 31 demonstration. The Daily News on Sunday Senior Staff Writer Blessings Mashaya caught up with Sikhala who defiantly pledged his determination to fight President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime and below are the excerpts of the interview.
Q: You spent five weeks in remand custody, how was prison life?
A: Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison is a concentration camp similar to Nazi concentration camps, where it is overpopulated with inmates. It is designed to take a maximum of 1 500 inmates, but it has more than 3 000. It is meant for convicted prisoners.
I was an accused person on remand who was detained with convicted inmates. This was both unlawful and unconstitutional. I will sue prison authorities for that. Section 63 of the Prisons Act states that different categories of prisoners must be kept separately. I was not a convicted prisoner, but I was made to serve a five weeks sentence on a matter that was not yet concluded by the courts.
It’s shocking, pure persecution and brutality against all tenets of constitutionalism and the rule of law. This is strongly rebuked by the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the United Nations conventions. We were treated together with my colleague Jacob Ngarivhume as convicts when the law does not support that.
We were made to sleep in an overpopulated cell where people contracted Covid-19, there was no running water and they was a heap of faeces at the toilet like a mountain.
No flashing facilities, people eating boiled spinach with water and something they describe as sadza which cannot even feed a dog.
Prison guards and inmates fight for portions for such food and some thin mixture of mealie meal and water is served in the morning as porridge. Chikurubi prison must be shut down and converted into a museum. It is not a structure meant for the civilised world.
Q: Some say you were arrested after being sold out by your colleagues in the July 31 Movement, names like MDC youths spokesperson Stephen Sarkozy Chuma and former Zanu PF youth leader Jimmy Kunaka have been mentioned. What is your take?
A: Whether sold or not, it was God’s will, but if there is anyone who did it, they must know that it will not go unpunished. I don’t put much currency in personal relationships because the struggle is bigger than personal relationships. The struggle is for the people of Zimbabwe not individuals in relationships.
Q: Are you slowing down your action against the government because of the arrest?
A: The fight for a just society is a calling. It cannot be halted because of persecution. An illusionary regime thinks that it can silence individuals through persecution. It is an old, archaic method used by people who are still living in the world of the past. Modern civilisation allows citizens to exercise their civil liberties and civil rights without impediment. It is the cornerstone of our war cry.
Q: Do you not fear for your life and your family?
A: There is no reason to live under the claws of oppression as life is all about the pursuit of happiness. Even slaves had to rebel against slave masters in the land of the master.
Fear is a breeding oasis of tyranny and dictatorship. Ours is a dictatorship never witnessed in modern civilisation. It is archaic, outdated and has outlived its span. It needs everyone to master courage. It is the responsibility of everyone to be brave and face the devil.
Q: There were reports of your colleagues in the MDC Alliance who reportedly demanded your expulsion from the party because of your dalliance with the July 31st Movement?
A: People are free to suggest whatever they want. If there is anyone who wants me expelled they are free to move the motion and see where it will take them. Currently my focus is on the freedom of our people and Zimbabwe at large. I don’t want to be diverted from the cause of our people. Freedom is coming.
Q: MDC president Thokozani Khupe continues to recall MDC Alliance MPs, what’s your position on this matter?
A: It is a diversionary tactic that should not attract my attention. The freedom of our people is paramount. I refuse to be invited into a drama of no consequences to our freedom. Let those who enjoy drama participate.
Q: Some are suggesting that the MDC must change its name and re-brand what’s your thinking?
A: Whatever shape the struggle will take it must put people first. Branding or no branding is not an issue. What is an issue at the moment of the time is citizens aspirations. Citizens want freedom and happiness, nothing more, nothing less.
Q: Your view on the current situation in the country, do you think Mnangagwa can manage the current crisis?
A: He is clueless. They are a bunch of mere oppressive misfits ruining our country. The country has been irreparably ruined. All facets of national infrastructure have been destroyed, people becoming hopeless by each passing day. Scavenging survival is the order of the day and suffering becoming part of our totem as a nation.
Future of generations destroyed. Corruption becoming institutionalised, looting the order of the day, a small clique using gun-toting oppression to subdue dissent. Freedom is coming.
From the beginning as I always alluded, there is no clueless leader in the whole world like Mnangagwa. Since the coup in November 2017, Zimbabwe’s economic crisis deepened.
Arrogance is supreme and refusal to engage other important political stakeholders led our country into a deep crisis. As long as our politics is wrong, forget. Looting and corruption is protected. Those who speak against it are arrested. They get abducted and tortured like what happened to Tawanda Muchehiwa, who was abducted and tortured.
The level of aggression to silence those who are exposing and speaking against looting and corruption, if applied to deal with the economy, 90 days will be long to fix our challenges. The problem we have as a country is that we have got cruel bullies who care not about the economy. They just want to protect their looting trophies.
Q: What is your thinking on South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa’s efforts to assist Zimbabwe in dealing with its political and economic challenges?
A: Everyone who is bringing pressure to the regime against its excesses is welcome. It should be welcomed by everyone that for President Cyril Ramaphosa to send emissaries it is a clear sign that there is a huge crisis of magnificent proportions in Zimbabwe.
The blind ones cannot see it because of their demons but this is being called to order. The entire world must aggressively pursue and adopt the policy of containment against the regime in Harare on their aggression against the people. The regime is the aggressor against its citizens.
Q: How is your relationship with Nelson Chamisa?
A: I wonder what people wish to inquire about that question. Institutions should not be built on relations of individuals, but on a shared common vision and aspirations.
We both share a vision of a new Zimbabwe, a Zimbabwe of equal opportunities and a free society. That is what bonds us together. It is a stronger relationship than any other form of relationship.
We love our country so much, what more would we need in our relationship. The relationship built on love for our nation as a generation is more powerful than any other form of relationship.
Q: Some are saying opposition leaders are cowards, they only mobilise for protests, but they will not join people on the streets, what’s your response?
A: What else would you expect from a frightened regime that mobilises all the might of the entire security services, gun-toting against unarmed civilians. When they brace for murder, you duck them and leave them exposed. Like earlier indicated, the struggle of today uses sophisticated brain power than the primitive methods of violence and terror which is the hallmark of this regime. When they expect to shoot leaders to destroy resistance against its tyranny they find those leaders more advanced in handling the situation at hand.
Every leader is prepared to lead from the front and if the regime thinks by the use of its excesses, leaders did not come on the forefront, then it’s the Victor Matemadanda porosity of mind.
Q: Zanu PF said you are being sponsored by western powers, how true is this?
A: It is stupidity by all form of definition and retarded propaganda that we need someone from some foreign land to tell us that few individuals are looting our country dry. That corruption is rife in our midst, when we all witnessed how money donated for Covid-19 was looted.
Do we need anyone to tell us that gross human rights have been committed in our country when we all see how thousands of our people have been abducted, tortured and murdered in our country since 1980.
The level of political consciousness by the generation of today is higher than the generations of the past. They are highly educated and can see for themselves the challenges in their country. What needs to be answered by this regime is whether looting and corruption is rife in the system, whether their form of political sustenance boarders on systematic human rights abuses such as abductions, torture and murder of political opponents or civil rights leaders in our country.