FORMER war veterans’ leader, Jabulani Sibanda’s case of undermining the authority of President Robert Mugabe is still dragging on, two years after it surfaced.
Sibanda is being accused of having made utterances to the effect that “leadership was not sexually transmitted” at the height of the ZANU-PF infighting that saw former vice president Joice Mujuru also being expelled from the party at the end of 2014. She was accused of plotting to topple President Mugabe from power.
The former war veterans’ leader is alleged to have made the utterances at Herbert Mine in Mutasa, Manicaland province, while addressing war veterans who had come to witness the reburial of liberation war fighters exhumed from a mine shaft.
The case against Sibanda was remanded to February 29 this year pending the hearing of a constitutional application at the Constitutional Court, which Sibanda filed challenging the charges brought against him on the grounds that they stifled his right to freedom of speech.
Contacted this week for comment on the length of time it had taken for the case to be heard in the courts, Sibanda said: “I can’t talk much about it, the case has been adjourned and so that is where we are on the issue.”
Sibanda is being represented by another war veteran and former attorney-general, Sobuza Gula-Ndebele.
He is currently out of custody on US$400 bail.
Jacob Mafume, a lawyer and an official in the People’s Democratic Party said the Prosecutor-General’s office headed by Johannes Tomana was at risk of pursuing cases that did not have any merit and threatened to tarnish the judiciary’s standing in the eyes of the public.
“The arrest and bringing to court method is a persecution method employed by the State. They are more interested in your pre-trial jail period and they use that to intimidate you and others who might want to follow you,” said Mafume.
“The courts must frown and show their displeasure at such conduct if the courts are to maintain and safeguard their independence. The Prosecutor-General must do his job and bring cases that have merit. If he continues to do this the courts must punish his office severely as this conduct affects people and their lives,” he added.
Political observer, Vivid Gwede, said the courts were never safe from being used as a platform of political contestation.
“In fact, there have been complaints by many victims of the use of the law to persecute, humiliate through court cases and prosecution. How many treason trials have we seen over the years, trials involving opposition politicians, civil society activists and disgraced members of the ruling party?” said Gwede.
“But, if not always, the judiciary has at times resisted some of these machinations brought through the police and prosecutors. But, of course, the political point would have been made by the time of judgment and finalisation of such cases,” he observed.
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