HARARE – Former opposition lawmaker Job Sikhala claims his long incarceration at Chikurubi Maximum Prison had all to do with false links claims he had been co-opted into an alleged plot by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Sikhala, 51, spent nearly 600 continuous days at the country’s largest prison under a widely condemned pre-trial detention over violence incitement charges.

He was later convicted and handed a wholly suspended jail sentence over the offence which he has vowed to appeal at the High Court.

Sikhala’s long incarceration has been linked by allies to an attempt by the Zanu PF led government to silence its most influential critics.

But the outspoken politician also has another theory behind his own abuse.

In an interview with veteran journalist and media businessman Trevor Ncube, Sikhala claimed he was targeted for alleged links to a coup.

“The most dangerous rumour which hardened my oppressors, which was spread and false, I want this to be known by everyone,” he said.

“Was that Job Sikhala in whatever he has been doing or whatever he was doing has been used and was working in collusion with general Chiwenga to overthrow Emmerson Mnangagwa’s presidency in this country.

“A pure lie created, I don’t know for what purpose. So when this rumour was also conveyed to my oppressors, my oppressors became hardened through a lie.”

Sikhala added, “I have never met General Chiwenga. I don’t know where this rumour emanated from and for it to be said I still wonder up to present what the intention was.

“The only time I met him was in July 1997 some 20 plus years ago when we as student leaders visited state house after invitation to a meeting by the late president Robert Mugabe.

“To go and solve issues why we have been causing demonstrations at the University of Zimbabwe, what were our grievances.”

However, there has been no known attempt yet by Chiwenga to overthrow Mnangagwa.