Outspoken Zengeza West MP and lawyer Job Sikhala says its an insult to compare former President Robert Mugabe and the current president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Sikhala says that while its true “Mugabe was a monolithic dictator. It will be an insult to Satan to compare him with the current one. The current one fathered Satan.”
Below is a transcript of an interview he had with the independent Daily News newspaper.
1) You have represented many victims of Zanu PF brutality in recent weeks, how many are they and how are the cases proceeding?
Sikhala: I initially represented almost everyone at the midst of the crackdown and internet shutdown in the country. And the accused persons were totalling 138, at the beginning but grew by each passing day as people were continuously raided in their homes and arrested.
Some were brought to Court before my presence and trials were started on their first day of appearance in Court to which we had to intervene on the middle of their trials. Cases were commenced without the accused persons given state papers or even sufficient time to prepare for their defense. Trials were commenced in what magistrates whom I appeared before called fast track trials. We can’t insult Kangaroo courts for what I witnessed. It’s more than Kangaroo.
2) You are a veteran politician and on several occasion you were beaten by Zanu PF thugs and State security. Can you explain one of the horrific incidents you suffered in the hands of the security?
Sikhala: I am a living testimony of torture and abuse by the system in January 2003. When the Magistrate I appeared before tried to conceal the savagery torture perpetrated against the arrested people, I reminded him that I was once a victim of the same savagery torture and that the court under Her Worship Chigumbira allowed my sexual organ to be shown in Court to show the savagery burns that were perpetrated on my sexual organ without any queries. That is when he accepted that accused persons come behind his chair to show their wounds.
My torture together with my lawyer through electrocution at the Kabri military intelligence was so horrendous that when I saw hundreds tortured the way I did I identified with them. I arrived at Makoni Police Station when nobody knew I was coming. The offices I was referred to where just next to the Police cells. I heard my clients screaming in groans and sounds of beatings.
I heard them when I was walking to the cells. I did not report to the office I was referred first. I went straight to the cells and caught red handed about 15 men and 4 women routinely torturing arrested suspects. Of 15 men and 4 women, 5 were soldiers and others in civilian clothing. All the soldiers had guns on their shoulders, while they used plunks and sticks to assault and torture the arrested people.
I saw it by my own eyes. I then asked to see investigating officers of the case to which I was referred to the office I was referred to at first. I introduced myself and told them that I am a lawyer who has come to represent people whom I found being tortured in the cells. Those in the office feigned shock that the arrested suspects were being tortured and beaten in the cells.
I saw one of them coming out of the office and shouted to those who were torturing the suspects to immediately stop what they were doing. Pure pretension because the office is just 5 meters from the cell plus, the screaming and groaning of the assaulted were heard when you just enter the corridor to the office.
I felt angry and immediately phoned Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human rights on the distressing situation I found at Chitungwiza Police Station. I felt a conviction of our country’s destiny that we can’t continue on this path. One of the arrested suspects sustained a broken leg. You feel emotions engulfing you and tell yourself kusiri kufa ndekupi.
On the same day dockets for about 80 people were prepared to take them to Court. I had to wait for them as I was afraid that torture may continue to be perpetrated if I leave. Lawyers who came on the previous days, I gathered from one of the friendly officers that they were threatened if they dare ask about arrested people. I feared not as hardened victim of torture that they should do whatever they wanted if they on me because ndinotava nhire.
Many things raced in my mind. I told myself, that this is the 21st century and our country is where it is because we have allowed such heinous acts to take place in our country without being confronted. We can’t all be silenced into submission. I vowed to die fighting for the justice of these people.
I remembered Herbert Chitepo, how he stood for those who were fighting for majority rule. I said I took oath to defend the constitution of my motherland. Lawyering should not all be about money but justice. I said I must fight and this is the biggest fight of my life.
3) What do you think is the best way forward to stop this?
The problem we had in Africa is that we allowed evil to prevail and prosper. We allowed ourselves as responsible citizens to be cowed and accept evil as normal because of fear. The incidences of massive human rights abuses that were occasioned by the state bordering on crimes against humanity should be brought to the world.
The efforts that are being done by other international players must be supported. A crime against humanity is a serious crime at international law. Remedies are found on international institutions to get the most powerful before justice. Rape and torture as vehicles of political retribution is an international crime. It has its own consequences.
The bus stop argument that leaders who are not part to the Rome Statute can not be brought before the International Criminal Court is a fallacy. Committing an international crime destroys a refugee in the notion of being part to the Rome Statute.
Many international law crimes outlined in the Rome Statute have muted into customary international law and any breach of them makes someone subject to appear before the ICC. Crimes that have attained jus cogens norm can not be abrogated against. Those who are liable for the heinous crimes committed in our country should be brought before the ICC.
Had it not been of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights who have deployed lawyers throughout the country to defend and protect citizens who were under siege we could have seen a genocide in our country. As Zimbabweans we must thank ZLHR and the Law Society of Zimbabwe for the important role they played during the occurrence of unmitigated human rights abuses we witnessed in our country.
4) Do you think Mnangagwa’s rule is different from Mugabe?
What is now clear to every Zimbabwean is that those currently in occupation of high offices were protagonists in every human rights abuses that took place in our country since 1980. Where you trace every act of mass genocide since Gukurahundi you will see their footprints. This means that they were the authors and enforcers of Mugabe’s commissions and omissions since 1980.
That’s why it was easy for them to overthrow their puppet at the top. I remember in 1997 when I was a student leader at the University of Zimbabwe, inspired and embodied by the overthrow of the Indonesian dictator called Surhato, we planned and executed what termed “Operation One Time”, whose main thrust was to overthrow Robert Mugabe via massive students protests.
If you recall Suharto was overthrown by Indonesian University students who were tired of his dictatorship and long time misrule of the nation. We successfully mobilised students from the University of Zimbabwe, Harare Polytechnic, Harare Institute of Technology, Morgan ZINTEC and Seke Teachers College. It was after we won a High Court allowing us to demonstrate by then Justice Kamocha. We spent one week camping at Parliament and Africa Unity Square.
After weeks of frustrations by non response from government we intensified our action by planning to invade Munhumutapa Buildings to go and capture Mugabe. We agreed that we will assemble at Parliament as usual on the morrow. I was tasked with shouting ‘Operation One Time’ and then everyone will March to Munhumutapa via Second Street into Samora Machel.
We executed as planned and we were around 10 000 students. When we arrived at Munhumutapa I was tasked with besieging into Munhumutapa. Mugabe used the Police to fire strong teargas at the middle of the crowd and we ran into different directions. Some angry students left the entire CBD broken and looted. Mugabe just responded by shutting down UZ and Harare Polytechnic for a year.
No one was killed, maimed or arrested. And this regime kills tens, incarcerates thousands, torture tens of thousands, displace hundreds of thousands, capture the lower Courts to overthrow the proper dispensary of justice, give bizarre and awkward directives to deny people their Constitutional rights to bail until proven guilty and you honest want to compare with Mugabe.
Yes, it’s true that Mugabe was a monolithic dictator. It will be even an insult to Satan to compare him with the current one. The current one fathered Satan.
5) Some are saying talks are needed for Zimbabwe to move forward, what’s your take on this issue?
Talks to what end. I am not a person who rushes to embrace deceit. Talks in Zimbabwe are having a history of being held at the instigation of the perpetrators of crimes against humanity after committing atrocities. Joshua Nkomo may his dearest soul rest in eternal peace was forced into talks by these evil people after a genocide against PF ZAPU’s supporters, talks that led to the annihilation of PF ZAPU.
Although Dr. Dumiso Dabengwa tried to revive it, the majority of the ZAPU element remained in ZANU PF to accrue patronage benefits and food. The late iconic founding father of the MDC Dr. Morgan Tsvangirai was dragged into talks after the unprecedented murder, torture, maiming and displacement of his supporters. Today, the call to talks is made after the death of several Zimbabweans, their torture, rape and displacement of hundreds of thousands of our people.
The fundamental question is, should talks be preceded by the death of our people? Talks have always been to the political benefit of a system that has always been there to kill our people. If ever talks are to be held, they must only center on political reform. The issue around the governance question can only be answered by creating a legislative system that protect the will of the people. This business of bailing out this evil system that has been with us for a long time is over.
6) If you have a chance to advise your President Nelson Chamisa what would you say to him for the party and the country to move forward?
I will advise him to remain resilient and and spun temptations to be used as a vehicle to resuscitate a dead donkey. He must remain entrenched with the people. People are on his side. He must continue to pray to God to continue blessing him with the Solomonic wisdom he currently shows in his leadership. Remain on the side of the suffering people Mr. President
7) Are you going to contest for any position at your party’s congress this year?
Party positions should never be anyone’s pre occupation on the midst of the crisis we have. All the energy and intellectual prowess must be applied to the solutions of the dinosaur that is confronting the people of Zimbabwe. No time for stupid self interests. It’s the time for every Zimbabwean to speak out against evil. Cowering into silence has been our greatest undoing.
Now is the time for all of us, to put this madness into perspective. What is your role you are playing. I am playing mine by standing for the weak in Courts everyday since the clampdown against our people. I am speaking out. Freedom of speech and freedom of conscience are some of the fundamental rights bestowed on us by our constitution. Let them be practiced without limitation.
8) After the death of Morgan Tsvangirai do you think your party is still the same?
President Morgan Tsvangirai passed on after creating an institution that will never die. He left us an estate of democracy that will be inherited by many generations to come. The deluded ones thought President Tsvangirai will die with the institution he created. But God had his plans.
The coming in of Advocate Nelson Chamisa at the helm of the party brought with it the tremendous growth of the party. He grew the MDC vote from the maximum of around 1.3 million President Tsvangirai obtained to 2.6 million he got at the past elections. Mnangagwa claims to have polled 2.4 million, which is almost what Robert Mugabe claimed to have obtained in 2013. Figures don’t lie. The party is growing at an alarming rate.
9) In Parliament you are still the Job Sikhala we know in terms of contributions what is motivating you to do that?
Parliament is a platform where a person should know the purpose of why the people have elected you to be there. Secondly, I don’t debate ignorantly. I raise issues in most cases which my constituency will have asked me to raise. I am confident because I don’t have borrowed brains. People of Zimbabwe must expect more from me. Informed debates must be the guiding principle of our operation in Parliament.
10) Your fellow MPs are being harassed on daily basis. I just want your views on this issue?
It is there for everyone to see, that ZANU PF is in a panic mode. The institution called MDC has a boll of talent and definition of what Zimbabwe desires. In the vain hope to cripple the party ZANU PF is now on the disabling mission hoping to destroy the MDC through persecution of its Members of Parliament. The mission is simple. Put them all in prison and poison them there and eliminate.
It is advised that our MPs are being locked in cells lacerated with chemical poison of Russian origin that will slow death them after their release from prison. I was luck that when the SHUTDOWN took place I was at a Parliamentary Workshop in Kadoma for a week. It happened when I was on Parliamentary business to which they knew I was away although they came and stormed into my house and harassed my wife, before they searched all my house to no avail. Daily News
Source: Nehanda Radio