British lord asks what UK is doing about Sikhala’s continued detention

Lord Jonathan Oates
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Britain’s Lord Oates yesterday asked whether the United Kingdom government had held any discussions with the Zimbabwe government or the Southern African Development Community over the continued detention of opposition legislators Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole.

Sikhala and Sithole were arrested in June following violence in Chitungwiza and have been in custody since.

Minister of State in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Deve;lopment Office Lord Goldsmith said his government was  monitoring the detention of the two, who were arrested with 14 others.

“The former Minister for Africa met with the Foreign Minister of Zimbabwe on 30 June and reiterated the importance of all political parties respecting the rule of law, refraining from violence and respecting the right of others’ to campaign freely ahead of upcoming elections in 2023,” Lord Goldsmith said.

Sikhala and Sitholke have been denied bail on several occasions. Their lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa said they were being detained for political reasons to force their party, the Citizens Coalition for Change, to join the Political Actors Dialogue, a platform for dialogue for parties that participated in the 2018 elections.

The CCC and the Movement for Democratic Change-Alliance before it refused to join POLAD.

Nearly 52 000 people have signed a petition calling for the release of Sikhala and his colleagues.

The State says it has almost completed investigations into their case and they should stand trial on 15 November.