MASVINGO – MDC MP Job Sikhala, arrested and charged with treason in July last year, was acquitted on Friday after a judge described the charges as “bizarre”.
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Justice Garainesu Mawadze of the Masvingo High Court granted an application by the Zengeza West MP for exception to the charges.
The court adjourned briefly after tear smoke fired by police to disperse hundreds of MDC supporters drifted into the courtroom.
MDC leader Nelson Chamisa and his deputy Tendai Biti were both in court to witness Sikhala’s acquittal.
Sikhala embraced his lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa after the judge cleared him of treason.
Reacting to the ruling, MDC Senator Douglas Mwonzora said: “The ill-advised and ill-fated prosecution of Job Sikhala for treason was simply meant to emasculate and abrogate basic political rights. It is part of the lawfare that enemies of democracy keep waging on the opposition.”
The outspoken lawmaker was arrested after declaring, while campaigning in Bikita, that “we will overthrow Mnangagwa before 2023.”
Mtetwa said the charges were vague, meaningless and did not establish the essential elements recognised by the law under section 180 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.
Mtetwa successfully argued that Sikhala did not call for the unconstitutional removal of Mnangagwa and neither did he call for the unlawful removal of a government.
Citing the removal of the late former President Robert Mugabe from power in November 2017 before his term expired, later upheld by the Constitutional Court, Mtetwa said there were many peaceful ways that a president could be removed from power in a non-violent manner, among them impeachment, which are allowed by the constitution.
“It is the job of politicians to advocate for the lawful removal of opponents,” Mtetwa said.-Zimlive