Socialist Worker

Zimbabwe: magistrate rules against socialists, so the trial will resume

by a Zimbabwean socialist
Issue No. 2291

Six socialists in Zimbabwe 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.

He argued that the state’s case had failed to produce any evidence for the defence to answer.

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

Magistrate Kudakwashe Jarabini did not explain his ruling. The state’s star witness called himself Jonathan Shoko and said he is a police officer attached to the Criminal Investigation Unit.

But he was exposed last year as Rodwell Chitiyo from the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation. He took his oath under a 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?

The trial is due to resume on Monday of next week and the defence expects to finish presenting its evidence on 2 March.

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 we are receiving from our families, friends and comrades in Zimbabwe and throughout the world.

“We are appealing to comrades to help us raise funds for our intensified campaign.”

The ruling is part of a wider pattern of harassment of activists as Zimbabwe moves towards a constitutional referendum and possible elections later this year.

So police violently disrupted a Women of Zimbabwe Arise protest as they marched to parliament on Tuesday of last week.

And dozens of armed riot police stopped a lecture on the financial crisis and Zimbabwe that was to be addressed by Professor Patrick Bond last week.

This intimidation comes as things get uncomfortable for Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party.

Zimbabwe’s constitutional committee released a draft constitution last week. It stated 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.”

Due to the call for an international day of action in the near future, the picket of the Zimbabwean embassy on Monday 27 February has been postponed.

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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International
Tue 21 Feb 2012, 18:24 GMT
Issue No. 2291
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