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Zimbabwe: Opposition figure sentenced to nine months In prison

Zimbabwean opposition figure Job Sikhala greets prison officers upon his arrival at the magistrates courts in Harare, Wednesday, Jan, 24. 2024.   -  
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Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP


A prominent Zimbabwean opposition politician, Job Sikhala, has been fined and given a nine-month suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of publishing falsehoods on social media.

Harare magistrate Feresi Chakanyuka handed the sentence to the former Zengeza West legislator Thursday on condition that he does not commit a similar offense.

Sikhala who was last week convicted of communicating falsehoods was also fined US$500 to be paid by 4 March 2024 failing which he shall spend two months in prison. 

In response to the verdict, Sikhala's lawyer Harrison Nkomo said his client should never have been charged in the first place under a law which the top court long ruled to be unconstitutional. 

“We are going to file our appeal as a registration of our displeasure of the judgement, we disagree with it, it has no foundation, it is not sound, the law nolonger exists and it is wrong for a court to convict someone on law that no longer exists. the effect of a striking of a section by the Constitutional Court means it is dead, how does it resuscitate no ways it cant,” said Nkomo.

Sikhala, is an outspoken official with the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change party and a former member of parliament. He is seen by many as the face of resistance to Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party and President Emmerson Mnangagwa and was arrested in June 2022 following the killing and dismembering of an activist from his party. 

Sikhala denied the charges, saying that he was simply acting as the family’s lawyer and helping them try to find Ali. Her body parts were later discovered in a well.

The 52-year-old Sikhala was convicted for this in January and handed a suspended sentence which lawyers say meant he can now be freed from the harsh and overcrowded Chikurubi maximum security prison.

The politician has just been released from almost two years of pre-trial detention on unrelated charges. He accuses the government of weaponising the courts, and faces another appearance on Friday.

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