Jailed Zimbabwean MP released on bail

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A Zimbabwean opposition politician facing charges of advocating the overthrow of President Emmerson Mnangagwa was freed on bail by the High Court after six days in detention, his lawyer said.

Job Sikhala, the deputy chairman of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was arrested last week and charged with attempting to subvert the government, a crime carrying a 20-year jail term. Sikhala, through his lawyers, denied the charge.

Sikhala was granted bail by a High Court judge in Masvingo, according to his lawyer, Alec Muchadehama. He was released on Monday after paying 5,000 Zimbabwe dollars ($570) and surrendering his passport, Muchadehama said.

The charges against Sikhala stem from a video on social media, in which politicians appear to be seen and heard telling supporters at a rally: “We are going to take the fight to the doorsteps of Emmerson Mnangagwa. We are going to overthrow him before 2023. That is not a joke.”

Reuters has not been able to verify the authenticity of the video.

More than a dozen government opponents have this year faced similar charges, with critics saying this shows under Mnangagwa, government is reverting to Mugabe-era security laws to muzzle the opposition.