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Zengeza West Member of Parliament (MP), Job Sikhala, has reiterated that he is prepared to be killed for defending the values and principles of a free and open democratic society, exuding happiness, free of impunity and fear.
Sikhala has been in prison since June 2022 when he was arrested and charged with inciting public violence which erupted during the funeral wake of slain Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) activist, Moreblessing Ali.
In his New Year message seen by Pindula News, Sikhala who is the CCC deputy national chairperson said the democratic space has been shrinking in Zimbabwe reminding of the precolonial era when there were gross violations of human rights. We present the letter below:
Happy New Year Dear Compatriots:
I sincerely congratulate and wish you all, Dear Compatriots, a happy and prosperous 2023. Let us all thank the Almighty God for his grace in taking us all into the new year. We thank you Lord for your eternal love.
Dear Zimbabweans, it is with regret and most unfortunate that I now share with you, a personal issue that I have kept to myself for the past three weeks. It is something that I did not share with anyone and kept to myself for these past 3 weeks. I had kept it to myself for the sake of my children and my wife. I know how much it will affect them.
I have not been feeling well for the past three weeks. A pain that started mildly on the left side of my abdomen has steadily grown to be extremely heavy and excessive by each passing day. There is some painful strike that exudes itself from the left side which I don’t really understand and do not know what it is. I pray that it is not colon cancer. It is worrying me very seriously.
Since the day I vomited and had a ceaseless running stomach, some time ago, which was widely reported, the prison authorities refused to allow my doctor to attend to me. This is despite the fact that my doctors came several times in the company of my lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa and Doug Coltart. Since then, I have stopped requesting the permission of my doctor to attend to me. The pain is severe during the night especially when I sleep by that left side. I ask all of you dear Zimbabweans, to pray for me to be healed of this pain. There is nothing beyond the cure of God.
I know the year 2022, like all the years of the past decade, has been catastrophic to all of us. The economic decay and the suffering of the general masses of our people has reached tragic levels. There has also been:
• closure, completely, of all the democratic space in the country,
• sharp growth of impunity,
• arbitrary arrests
• escalation in human rights abuses, which has resulted in some of us becoming long-term guests at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in extremely curious circumstances,
• the passage of oppressive laws, similar in nature and context to those administered by Ian Douglas Smith’s Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa.
• The use and application of terror and violence as instruments of political coercion witnessed during the past by-elections, the barring of CCC political races in various places.
Our country is in a crisis!
Freedom of expression has been completely shut down. Any criticism of the government is viciously crushed. What I know is that the world will not allow you to perish on your own dearest Zimbabweans. From the SADC region, voices of reason shall emerge. The African Union, United Nations and all outposts of democracy shall speak out in defense of our people under siege. I understand you might be outside, and I am inside, but our suffering and pain is the same. We are all under attack. What is happening to me today may happen to you tomorrow.
As for me dear compatriots, it is both in the public and world glare that I am going through the persecution of century, over spurious, if not bizarre allegations. It’s now almost seven months and the choreographed script plays on. As I always alluded, I am prepared to be killed.
What I stood for was correct both on earth and in heaven. Moreblessing All was a woman, viciously kidnapped and brutally murdered. I was instructed by her family to be their lawyer. I am proud for having represented their interests to the best of my abilities. If I am killed dear compatriots, I am prepared to meet the fate in defense of values and principles I hold dearly; values of a free and open democratic society, exuding happiness, free of impunity and fear.
Even if I die, dear Zimbabweans, my persecution has taught me two important stations someone should pass through in life to understand and appreciate the true circle of life. One is college and the other is prison. College takes you through the interactive journey of intellectual discourse and acquisition of knowledge to equip you and enable you to cope with the challenges of today and tomorrow. It links you to the consistency of solid acquaintances who will in the future, stand in your corner come rain or sunshine, whatever difficult trial or tribulation, no matter how seemingly insurmountable. It reveals to you that knowledge alone is inadequate if it doesn’t locate within you, humility and empathy. It is a social construct. It links life with the needs and demands of the general masses of the people.
Prison teaches one the injustices and cruelty of the wicked. It opens up the mind to understand how power can be used irresponsibly to inflict maximum pain to the innocent and the powerless. Prison is the uppermost university that taught me that, those who hold power should learn to exercise their authority without an ounce of arrogance, aggression or force. The tough conditions here at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison have taught me to strengthen mastery over emotions. Many leaders tend to be conceited and arrogant when they grow to have power over millions. Many men have faced adversity, but if you truly wish to test the character of a man, give him power and thereafter watch the theatrics.
With respect, prison teaches one to distinguish real and true friends on the one hand and hypocrites on the other. It opened me and exorcised from me some fallacies and falsehoods I had about some people around me. It made discover that my sincere, genuine and eternal friends are the masses and peoples of Zimbabwe, cutting across all classes and professions, domestically and in the diaspora. The passion of their roars and bellows I hear on a daily basis, is amazing and extra-ordinary. A million kisses of love my dearest friends. Your sharing of pain with me is historic.
Genuine friends are seen by the sweat of their efforts, to fight on the side of their cornered friend. The vociferous voices of clamor in every village, township, growth point, town or city in Zimbabwe is being heard echoing every day. Those in all the far corners of the world have demonstrated unmatched support and empathy over the suffering of one their own. Thank you good people!
What does it take to stand with your friend?
The University of Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison has revealed to me treacherous hypocrites, sell outs, colluders with my persecution, opportunists trying to capitalize on the predicament of the moment for cheap political and financial gain from my tormentors. Some wished me dead. I am sick. Please, they must then pray for my death. Some plotted schemes to destroy me by spreading false intelligence given to them by their handlers and are dabbling in rumor-mongering and get into deals to the extent of carrying poisoned food to deliver it with a friendly smile. I am aware of all their shenanigans.
Unjust incarceration also taught me who the real true friends of the people of Zimbabwe are. Nations who stand for the truth and uprightness are seek speaking fearlessly against unjust persecution. I would like to thank them all.
Prison also taught me the role of the progressive and fearless fourth estate in contrast to urging and abetting impunity. Domestically and internationally the voices of the progressives are expounded with clarity.
My dear friends, I thank you all.
Have a happy and prosperous 2023!
Job Wiwa Sikhala