Socialist Worker

Court dismisses acquittal application by Zimbabwean activists

by a Zimbabwean socialist
Issue No. 2290

Six Zimbabwean socialists have lost their application to have charges of 'conspiring to commit public violence' dismissed.

Their lawyer made the request at the close of the state's case, arguing it had failed to produce any evidence that the defence needed to present evidence to answer.

The six were among 50 people arrested in February last year at an International Socialist Organisation (ISO) which showed footage of the Arab Spring.

Magistrate Kudakwashe Jarabini did not explain his ruling. The trial is now due to resume on 27 February and the defence expects to finish presenting its evidence on 2 March. Hopefully the state's delaying tactics will not continue.

The state wants to continue with its harassment of any opposition voice. The reality is that the state's star witness who called himself Jonathan Shoko and said he is a police officer attached to Criminal Investigation Unit (CIU) was exposed as Rodwell Chitiyo from the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO). He took his oath under false name.

Even the state sponsored Herald newspaper said he was not a credible witness and his evidence had loopholes. The magistrate could be seen laughing as “Shoko” gave his hilarious 'evidence'.

Surely he should have dismissed the case immediately.

One of the six defendants, Tafadzwa Choto, said, 'We hoped to celebrate the first anniversary of our arrest on 19 February as free people, but we remain optimistic that we will sail through especially with the support that we continue receiving from our families, friends, comrades in Zimbabwe and throughout the world.

'We are appealing to comrades to help us fundraising funds for the intensified campaign were are now running before and during our defences in court.'

The ruling is part of a wider harassment of activists as Zimbabwe moves towards a constitutional referendum and possible elections later this year. So, the police violently disrupted a Women of Zimbabwe Arise protest on 14 February by police as they marched to parliament.

Dozens of armed riot police stopped an academic lecture on “The Global Financial Crisis and Implication for the Third World: The Case for Zimbabwe” that was to be addressed by Professor Patrick Bond from South Africa, last week.

This intimidation comes as things get uncomfortable for Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party. The constitutional committee released a draft constitution last Thursday says that “a person is disqualified for election as president if he or she has already held office for one or more periods, whether continuous or not, amounting to ten years.'

Seven MDC activists have been languishing in prison since May for the alleged murder of a police officer. If courts can no longer operate professionally but are decided by political interest, where is Zimbabwe heading as a country?

Picket the Zimbabwean embassy on the day the trial resumes, Monday 27 February, 1pm, 429 Strand, London WC2R 0JR.

Send money to support the defendants to—ISO Zim Solidarity, Unity Bank, Birmingham, Sort Code: 08-60-01, Account number 20136938 For international payments: Swift Code: CPBKGB22 IBAN Number: GB11 CPBK 0800 5150 0732 10


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News
Fri 17 Feb 2012, 12:50 GMT
Issue No. 2290
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