The communists have alleged that authorities “framed” Mr Masaraure, who is the president of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz), as part of a witch-hunt following education workers’ strike action over pay.
Mr Masaraure was arrested last week in connection with the 2016 death of his friend Roy Issa. It had previously been assumed that he had jumped to his death from the seventh floor of his hotel in the capital Harare.
Now state prosecutors are claiming that Mr Issa was beaten to death in the street by Mr Masaraure and his accomplices and intend to call eight witnesses to testify to that effect.
But one of the key witnesses, Samantha Lauti, was allegedly detained for an entire day and forced by police to make a statement saying that Mr Masaraure killed Mr Issa according to lawyers.
Defence brief Doug Coltart said that it was a classic case of “trumped-up charges,” insisting that his client was nowhere near the Jameson Hotel at the time of the incident.
“The investigation into this case is something of a witch-hunt where the police are not investigating in an impartial manner, seeking the truth on what really transpired, but rather appear to be on a mission to frame the accused person with no evidence,” he said.
Mr Coltart says that his legal team have been denied access to the inquest report despite several requests.
Members of the teaching union have been frequently targeted by the state including secretary-general Robson Chere while Mr Masaraure has been “abducted” on numerous occasions.
Primary school teacher Sheila Chisirimunhu spent 10-months behind bars after organising a protest for higher wages in December 2020.
The teachers’ leader could face the death penalty if found guilty of murder.
The Zimbabwean Communist Party said the arrest of Mr Masaraure was political, calling on “trade unions, communist and workers’ parties and all progressive organisations and individuals to send solidarity messages to [email protected].”