HARARE – Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has vehemently denied claims of either government or Zanu PF meddling in court processes involving prominent opposition politician Job Sikhala and Marry Mubaiwa, ex-wife to Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.
Sikhala has been languishing in remand prison for more than 80 days for allegedly inciting the political violence that rocked Nyatsime June this year in the aftermath of Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) activist Moreblessing Ali’s shock murder by suspects linked to Zanu PF.
He has seen his bail attempts rejected at every turn by the courts which have leaned on the state’s claims the hard-line lawmaker was a serial offender, who, if left to his own devices, could re-offend.
Mubaiwa, on her part, faces a slew of charges relating to attempted murder on the VP, money laundering and assault.
She also battles serious ailment that has kept her within hospitals.
Courts have still demanded her physical presence in the dock despite her apparent health troubles with arrest warrants issued where she has failed to appear due to illness.
Juxtaposed with high level corruption cases involving some Zanu PF bigwigs and those linked to the ruling party, the fortunes of the parties have been different.
The apparent differential treatment between the two groups has given rise to sentiments Zimbabwe’s governing party could be abusing its proximity to the state to spite opponents.
Reached for comment, Ziyambi denied any knowledge of Sikhala and Mubaiwa’s criminal trials, let alone meddling in the progress of their court processes on behalf of either government or Zanu PF.
“I don’t even know his (Sikhala) case, or what is happening there and I am completely sincere. I don’t know what is happening in court. I don’t even know honestly. I have never followed anything. I don’t know. I have never had interest in following it.
“We never discuss these things. During my entire time in government, we have never discussed these things before courts.
“So, I don’t know where they are discussed if ever there is any discussion in those things.
“I don’t know. I am not even briefed as minister when they take those dockets to court. If anything, I would be charged with criminal abuse of office.”
The opposition, which insists Sikhala was being denied a basic right enshrined in the national constitution, claims the courts are being manipulated by politicians keen on hurting him for his political beliefs.
But Ziyambi said those claiming court bias should “address legal issues that are arising out of whatever application lawyers are making and co-relate that to what they perceive as interference”.
“Even a villager would claim bias without any facts,” he said, adding that he often laughs off the claims.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has however admitted before that he sometimes uses his authority to influence court decisions.
In 2018, when then MDC Alliance politician Tendai Biti was arrested following his foiled bid to seek asylum in Zambia after he was being sought for announcing election results against the law, the President said he intervened to have one of his most fierce opponents granted bail.
“Tendai Biti was released earlier today following my intervention,” he said via his Twitter handle August 2018, adding, “At such a crucial time in the history of the new Zimbabwe, nothing is more important than unity, peace and dialogue.” – ZimLive