HARARE – Unwell Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) politician and former legislator Job Sikhala went through surgery on Wednesday while shackled in leg irons.

The shock incident, captured in viral images, has been described by Zanu PF rivals as a typical case of vindictiveness against a political opponent.

Sikhala, described as a political prisoner by his party and rights groups, has been languishing in pre-trial detention for more than 500 days.

His party says he is innocent.

Repeated attempts to seek freedom on bail have all been turned down by local courts which have leaned on the state’s argument the firebrand politician was a serial offender while citing his arrests on more than 60 occasions on matters related to his aggressive activism.

Sikhala has never been convicted for any.

But what has caught the attention of many have been images of the former student leader and lawyer undergoing treatment at a local hospital while chained in leg irons.

The image was circulated by his son who has stepped in to front the family’s call for the release of the former legislator as he endures continued incarceration.

Bulawayo mayor and top CCC politician David Coltart called on the world to speak out against the persecution of the politician.

“Does this regime have no shame? This is a man who has never killed or even injured anyone,” Coltart said on his X.

“He has never stolen a cent from anyone and yet he is treated like a hardened criminal. He has never tried running away.

“Has never been a fugitive from justice. Has never sought refuge in a foreign country.”

“All right-minded citizens and democrats across the world need to speak out against this vile conduct.”

Similarly, former cabinet minister and now exiled opposition politician Saviour Kasukuwere condemned the act.

“Highly despicable! What rank madness and cruelty is this?” said the former Zanu PF political commissar.

Global rights lobby, Amnesty International has described Sikhala’s continued detention a travesty of justice.

CCC leader Nelson Chamisa has also led attempts to rally world solidarity around the plight of his party colleague.