Sikhala’s utterances: Government, MDC respond

Politics

Leroy Dzenga

MDC Vice Chairperson Job Sikhala could be liable for prosecution after he made utterances that hinted at subversion over the weekend.

Legal experts have said Sikhala, who was quoted by a local daily as having said the MDC will overthrow the incumbent Government, could be in trouble with law enforcement agents, should they pursue the matter.

Former Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Deputy Minister Obert Gutu said if Sikhala said the statements attributed to him, he could have broken the law.

“Like in any democracy there is freedom of speech, but these rights are not absolute. The current Government won an election, which was contested in court and the highest court in the land rubber-stamped the victory,” Gutu said.

“If the words were quoted verbatim, then it is unfortunate because when one becomes a lawyer, they take oath as an officer of the court to respect the laws of the country,” he said.

Lawyer Advocate Thabani Mnyama described the words attributed to Sikhala as reckless.
“I read through the article and I was shocked by the language used. There is freedom of expression but using words like ‘overthrow’ could be breaking the law if used in reference to a constitutionally elected Government,” Mnyama said.

Government has not taken the statements by the Zengeza West legislator lightly. In a statement, Government spokesperson and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana said Government will take decisive action against reckless statements.

“Government has noted with disgust, insurgent rants from a member of the opposition threatening the legitimate public authorities in Zimbabwe. The illegal undermining of a legitimate authority is a serious crime. Trying to overthrow a Government is subversive and Government will not hesitate to deploy security institutions to constrain such abuse of democratic tenets and maintain constitutional order,” said Mr Mangwana.

Meanwhile, MDC has distanced itself from Sikhala’s comments saying they do not reflect their institution’s views.

“The MDC notes with deep worry and concern that Honourable Job Sikhala’s statements made during a rally in Bikita East over the weekend have caused uproar and the party wishes to clarify its position regarding the same.

It is the party’s view that Honourable Sikhala’s views as expressed at the rally and widely quoted in the press were his own personal opinions, which we believe have been misconstrued and misinterpreted,” read the statement released by Luke Tamborinyoka, the party’s deputy spokesperson.