By Fadzai Ndangana
A Local human rights lobby group Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) has condemned the continued incarceration and persecution of MDC Alliance female activists, Joanna Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri who are still in remand to date.
In a statement, CiZC Gender Committee, Chairperson Margaret Mutsamvi said the two are victims of persecution by prosecution and their ordeal at the hands of the State is clear testimony to the weaponization of the judiciary.
“We note with great concern that the State continues to use judicial capture as a weapon to victimize dissenting voices in the country. Mamombe, Chimbiri and another MDC Alliance activist, Netsai Marova were subjected to torture and sexual abuse by state security agents when they were arrested in May 2020 after protesting against the failure by the State to provide essential services to citizens following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mutsamvi.
She also spoke against an incident that happened on April 23 when prison officers forcibly removed Mamombe from hospital where she had gone for medical attention.
“In the case of Mamombe, the State continues to defy Section 50 of the country’s constitution on the rights of arrested and detained persons. The State has also used pretrial detention as a weapon to punish dissenting voices and this is evidenced by the fact that in most cases involving bail applications by incarcerated activists, the High Court has often pointed out to a miscarriage of justice on the part of the lower courts.
“We implore the State to uphold citizens’ fundamental rights and desist from weaponization of the judiciary to clampdown on opposition activists. An independent judiciary is a critical component of a democratic society and we condemn the State’s overbearing influence on the judiciary. We are further concerned that the State continues to use brute force in response to genuine calls for reforms by concerned citizens,” she added.
The organisation vouched to use all appropriate legal means to challenge judicial capture and hold the State to account on rights violations.
Currently, Mamombe and Chimbiri are languishing in remand prison after they were arrested in early March 2021 for addressing journalists at the Harare Magistrates Court.