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Zimbabwe

Harare – A Zimbabwe court on Monday overturned a conviction of inciting violence against an opposition activist who has already served eight months of a four-year jail term.

Jacob Ngarivhume’s case drew attention to the detention of opposition figures before nationwide elections in August in which President Emmerson Mnangagwa won a second term.

Ngarivhume, an anti-corruption activist, was jailed for four years in May on allegations of inciting protests against the ruling ZANU-PF party in 2020 on the Twitter platform that has since become X.

The 45-year-old Transform Zimbabwe president had declared that the post was put up by a ghost account.

This was rejected by a Harare magistrate but the High Court on Monday set aside the conviction, ruling that there was no evidence.

“Prosecution did not lead any evidence to prove that he owned the Twitter account used to incite violence,” said judge Pisirayi Kwenda.

ALSO READ | Zimbabwe opposition to challenge ‘sham’ vote results

“The police knew there was a need to link the accused to the words but they did not,” he added.

One year of Ngarivhume’s original sentence was suspended but he remained in detention for eight months, including for the August 23 election.

His lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku, said his client had those eight months “wasted” and that the judges had agreed with the defence case “in every aspect”.

Several activists including the prominent author Tsitsi Dangarembga were arrested after they staged a peaceful demonstration in an upmarket suburb in Harare in 2020.

The author was acquitted by the High Court in September, also after ruling prosecutors had failed to prove the case.

Another prominent activist Job Sikhala has been in jail for over a year and is on trial for a similar charge.

ALSO READ | Zanu-PF ‘pushing us to be violent’ – Zimbabwe opposition condemn one-sided by-elections

Scores of opposition activists were unable to cast their votes in the bitterly disputed August elections which saw the president and his party return to power.

International observers said the vote fell short of democratic standards and political tensions have since run high.

The main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) has denounced a campaign of intimidation against its members.

CCC candidates were barred from standing in nine by-elections on Saturday.

ZANU-PF has been in power since independence in 1980 and has been accused of using the courts to silence dissent.

CCC spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi said all political prisoners should be released.

“We continue to demand the release of all remaining political prisoners including Job Sikala,” he said on X.

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Picture: Getty Images

Source: AFP

For more African news, visit Africaninsider.com 

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