George Maponga and Fidelis Munyoro
MDC-Alliance vice national chair Job Sikhala was yesterday acquitted on subversion charges by Masvingo High Court Judge Justice Garainesu Mawadze, with lawyers describing the decision as a sign that the rule of law was alive and well in Zimbabwe.
The delivery of the judgment was stopped briefly after tear smoke engulfed the courtroom.
Police used teargas to disperse MDC-A supporters gathered outside the court chanting slogans. Some shops briefly closed after MDC-A members started stoning car windows.
Justice Mawadze also upheld Sikhala’s application for exception to the charge, saying it was meritorious. He upheld Sikhala’s not guilty plea he had entered earlier on, ruling that it would “be a sad day for the country’s jurisprudence if a person is charged on the basis of semantics”.
Justice Mawadze said the basis of the charges was Sikhala’s statement that was taken out of context. “The State put a spin to the alleged utterances by the accused. The statements should prima facie speak for themselves. The State used a wrong approach. Mr Zvekare proffered his own subjective interpretation but the charge has to be clear if accused is to have a fair trial.”
Commenting on the judgment, Mr Joel Mambara, a lawyer, said Zimbabwe had always demonstrated that there was rule of law.
“Rule of law is an elusive concept. When justice is in your favour, there is rule of law. When you are properly tried and found guilty, there is no rule of law,” he said.
“One is confounded when each time the beneficiaries of the rule of law shout the loudest that there is no rule of law. This is done ostensibly to entrench their positions and to win donor sympathy. Justice has not only been always done, it has been seen to be done. Sikhala’s matter is a living example.”
Veteran lawyer Mr Tinomudaishe Chinyoka said the prosecution was always doomed from day one.
“There was no crime committed and the Prosecutor General (Mr Kumbirai Hodzi) should never have agreed to prosecute the matter,” he said.