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Mnangagwa regime should stop weaponising law

by Staff reporter
16 Jan 2021 at 07:22hrs | Views
THAT the arrest of journalist Hopewell Chin'ono among others may complicate matters for President Emmerson Mnangagwa's new dispensation's international re-engagement is not in doubt anymore.

Not after law-fare as Dunlap defines it as "the use of law as a weapon" to silence critics.

While it is for the courts to judge whether there's a crime in the first place, it is clear for all and sundry that the regime could be using the law to persecute or frustrate political opponents to the detriment of Zimbabwe's internationally image.

The fact that Chin'ono, MDC Alliance vice-chairperson Job Sikhala and MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere are being dragged to court on a matter that could have required "a correction" by the police speaks to abuse of power/systems by the government.

The trio was arrested last week and charged for allegedly communicating falsehoods. They are being charged under section 31(a)(iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

The ZBC's botched attempt to galvanise a strong case against the trio by interviewing the supposed woman said to have lost her baby could turn out badly for the national broadcaster and the regime.

It is now public knowledge that the police investigating officer named Shyleen Marara as the correct woman, yet ZBC paraded one Rebecca Musariri. Should we not get worried when such things happen?

Alpha Media Holdings chairman Trevor Ncube and the diplomatic community, among others, have raised a red flag over the arrests.

With the poor state of the country's prisons, which are described as death traps at a time COVID-19 infections have soared, is it worth the while to incarcerate this trio?

It boggles the mind how the three have been charged under a law that was struck down by the Constitutional Court in 2014 itself a violation of their rights to free speech.

We call on Mnangagwa to rein in "extremists" in his regime to stop persecuting citizens simply for exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of expression and Press freedom.

It is our hope that instead of government unnecessarily turning against its citizens, it should focus on rebuilding the country's image to win plaudits for following the country's Constitution given their re-engagements efforts.

If the arrests are expected to break the opposition's spirits, clearly this could embolden their followers and continue to cause sleepless nights for the government.

In fact, the opposition should not sheepishly follow government, they must challenge the Executive and even suggest a way forward on key issues affecting the nation. Zimbabwe should not have an opposition in name but which should show leadership and take a position on key matters of national interest.

We believe the arrests and ill-treatment of prisoners in the country's jails speak of human rights abuse.

If international re-engagement is to yield results and pave way for Zimbabwe into the community of nations, Mnangagwa must avoid retribution and abide by the national governance charter.

Source - newsday

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