by RICHARD MUPONDE
MDC Alliance activist based in the United Kingdom, Martin William Chinyanga, will next year be tried by a British court on four charges of terrorism.
Chinyanga was arrested by the British police last year for encouraging people in Zimbabwe to burn down service stations and businesses in Harare through posts on Facebook.
The 50-year-old science teacher was charged on January 13 on four counts of encouraging terrorism.
According to UK media reports, Chinyanga appeared for a preliminary hearing at Old Bailey before Justice Sweeney and his preparatory hearing is set for May 28 this year, while January 10, 2022 is the provisional trial date.
Charges against Chinyanga are that on December 1, 2019, he posted a video on social media urging Zimbabweans to burn buses, service stations, fuel tankers and buildings to exert “pressure” on government to step down. This led to his arrest.
Political analyst and human rights defender Okay Machisa yesterday said the trial was in order as there was no room for violence in democratic societies.
“Violence has no place or space in democratic societies just like in Zimbabwe; we don’t have space for violence. Anybody who calls for violence has to face the rule of law and indeed, this is something which was supposed to be castigated left, right and centre by human rights non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as well as peace-loving people of Zimbabwe,” Machisa said.
MDC Alliance deputy spokesperson Clifford Hlatywayo said he had no information on the matter.
“Let me check on your issue,” Hlatywayo said.
Political analyst Austin Chakaodza said: “The MDC Alliance leadership, human rights lawyers and NGOs are faced with a huge dilemma regarding the terrorism charges levelled against Chinyanda. They have chosen to sit on the fence because they don’t want to offend the UK government since most of their funding is from the UK.
“Therefore, their silence on the matter comes as no surprise because they cannot bite the hand that feeds them. The outburst by Chinyanda was an emotional response to what had happened during last year’s July 31 protests and did not deserve a terrorism charge.”
This is not the first time that Chinyanga has brushed with the law.
In 2015, he was detained at London’s Charing Cross Police Station over an illegal demonstration at the Zimbabwean embassy.
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