Sikhala openly challenged party leader Morgan Tsvangirai over the MDC’s election strategy and was rumoured to be planning to start his own party if he was sidelined during the 2005 elections.
He has since formed his own party called MDC99.
According to the United States embassy, Sikhala was widely despised within the leadership structures of the MDC for his confrontational, maverick, agitator style and for publicly refusing to support party initiatives with which he did not agree.
He was arrested 15 times within two years, a tactic described by Blessing-Miles Tendi as one of those often used by civil society and opposition leaders to get money from donors.
Viewing cable 04HARARE716, CONTROVERSIAL MDC MP JOB SIKHALA ARRESTED AFTER
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 000716
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER, D. TEITELBAUM
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2014
SUBJECT: CONTROVERSIAL MDC MP JOB SIKHALA ARRESTED AFTER
REF: HARARE 693
Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d
¶1. (U) On April 25, police arrested Job Sikhala, MDC MP for
St. Mary's (a high-density suburb of Harare) and five of his
supporters. Three were released without charge on April 27,
but Sikhala and two others were still in custody on April 28.
Sikhala was arrested at his house in St. Mary's after his
supporters attacked MDC supporters loyal to Tendekayi Mswata,
MDC Provincial Youth Chair for Chitungwiza (a large
high-density area encompassing St. Mary's), at a funeral in
Zengeza (near St. Mary's). In the skirmish MDC youths loyal
to Mswata, Enoch Tawonezvi and Chirimudondo Mabviegudo, were
both stabbed, not fatally, and shots were fired. Mswata
loyalists had attacked Sikhala loyalists with knives and
batons at Sikhala's home on April 23. During that incident
Sikhala supporter Marata was stabbed and was still in the
hospital on April 28. Mswata said he intends to seek the
MDC's nomination to contest the St. Mary's parliamentary seat
in the March 2005 elections and is reportedly supported by
the MDC National Chairman and other high-level MDC officials.
¶2. (C) A controversial figure by any standards, Sikhala has
been in the news recently for publicly attacking MDC
President Morgan Tsvangirai over MDC elections strategy. He
is widely despised within the leadership structures of the
MDC for his confrontational, maverick, agitator style and for
publicly refusing to support party initiatives with which he
does not agree. An MDC official said recently, however, that
he is popular among the people for his confrontational public
statements. There are rumors circulating that he plans to
form his own political party and run for the St. Mary's seat
on a separate ticket, should he lose the MDC's nomination to
Mswata. (Comment: The MDC selects candidates via a
nominating process within its party structures. Mswata has a
good chance of obtaining the party's nomination. End
¶3. (C) COMMENT: That prospective MDC MP candidates have
pitted MDC supporters against one another speaks to a host of
problems facing an opposition under stress: growing
internecine rifts, unraveling discipline, and the dearth of
qualified people in the mid-level leadership. Sikhala has
been arrested at least fifteen times in the past two years
and was tortured by GOZ authorities in January 2003. That he
was arrested and detained again now is another signal from
the GOZ that being an MDC MP is hazardous business (Ref),
whether struggling against the ruling party or within the