Since January 2019 21 people have been charged with treason with the MDC Vice Chairman Job Sikhala being the latest addition to the list. These 13 people were charged with treason in 2019:
- ZCTU President Peter Mutasa
- Japhet Moyo
- Harare West MP Joana Mamombe
- Activist Evan Mawarire
- ARTUZ Leader Obert Masaraure
- Activist George Makoni
- Activist Tatenda Mombeyarara
- Activist Gamuchirai Makura
- Activist Nyasha Mpahlo
- Activist Farirayi Gumbonzvanda
- Activist Sithabile Dewa
- Activist Rita Nyamupinga
- Crisis Coalition Zimbabwe Chair Rashid Mahiya
This has prompted critics to draw parallels between the president and his predecessor Robert Mugabe. During his time Mugabe charged the following people with treason.
- Lt Lookout Masuku
- Dumiso Dabengwa
- Morgan Tsvangirai,
- Evan Mawarire
- Jestina Mukoko
- Welshman Ncube
- Tendai Biti etc
Critics that were quoted by The Standard in relation to the arrests which were 20 sometime last month before today’s case against Job Sikhala said:
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Shrinking of civic space is exacerbating by the day and this is against the expectations of citizens on the ‘Second Republic’ which projected itself as an inclusive, open, tolerant government that wants to distinguish itself from the past experiences,
The charge of subverting a constitutionally elected government is unjustified and unwarranted.“This charge is now a fashionable justification of arresting CSOs whose critique is not palatable to government
Another critic a UZ Lecturer speaking to the same publication said:
You have to appreciate that November 2017 did not bring about a new system,”
It was just removing Mugabe and ending there, so I wouldn’t be surprised with the action or how the state reacts to those it terms regime change agents.
Yes, they have a mutual tactic when it comes to power retention and how to do it
he drive in all this is to retain power and retain it at all cost,” Masunungure added.
“This shows that the modus operandi in dealing with dissident or regime change ideas are the same
Another critic a human rights Lawyer also said:
The state’s shameful tactics like assault and torture of persons accused of treason have not helped the government of Zimbabwe in securing convictions. It is clear that the politicisation of the justice delivery system, the militarisation of the prosecution arm, and compromises to prosecutorial independence of the
National Prosecuting Authority, among other related factors, account for the state of Zimbabwe’s dismal record in treason trials
The Former MDC Spokesperson was quoted saying
The issue of treason under Mnangagwa shows that Zimbabwe is under military rule and the regime only knows one way to respond to democratic discontent,” he said. “Their view is that any democratic discontent is treasonous.
Zimbabwe Peace Project also said:
“The government of Zimbabwe has reverted to its systematic and coordinated civil society organisations and human rights activists attack modus operandi; a path they always take when under pressure.
It is now apparent that these intimations were orchestrated to herald and justify the persecution of CSOs.”
“The activists’ arrest is a clear sign of criminalisation of human rights activism, which flies in the face of democratic society ideals
More: The Standard