Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Zimbabwean security forces round up opposition leaders in secret crackdown

By David McKenzie | CNN |

The six masked gunmen arrived in an unmarked pickup truck at a modest house in Highfield West, a suburb in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare.

opposition leader Nelson Chamisa,

It was just before 2 a.m., witnesses said, and the group had just one mission.

They were searching for Happymore Chidziva, leader of the opposition party’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Youth Alliance.

Jongwe Matanga, a tenant at the house, said the gunmen broke down the doors of other houses on the compound and beat several female tenants, holding a rifle to one of their heads.

“I saw a man holding a gun and then he walked a few steps and I was beaten,” said Matanga. “‘It is either Happymore’s life or it is yours,’ they shouted!”

But the gunmen weren’t satisfied.

Matanga said they abducted him and another tenant and drove them into a remote part of Harare where they beat them for over an hour. He shows the deep bruises on his arm and buttocks.

Although Matanga said he filed a police report, he doesn’t believe that the gunmen will ever be found.

The early-morning raid — just days after Emmerson Mnangagwa, leader of the ruling Zanu-PF party, was declared the winner in the country’s first election since veteran strongman Robert Mugabe was ousted in a coup last November does not appear to be an isolated incident.

Emmerson Mnangagwa
Human rights groups, opposition leadership and eyewitness testimony point to a brutal and sweeping crackdown in Harare in the aftermath of the disputed presidential poll on July 30.
 
They also say scores of opposition leaders are now on the run, more than two dozen opposition members are facing serious prison sentences for inciting violence and the apparent calm in the capital is just a facade.
 
The gunmen sweeping through Harare still have not found Chidziva.
 
CNN managed to interview him over Skype. On the run and too afraid to turn himself in, he said his name, along with those of several opposition leaders, was on a search warrant police used to raid MDC party headquarters last week.
 
Nelson Chamisa, the leader of the MDC opposition party, has called the presidential election results “fraudulent” and has vowed to dispute them.
 
Chidziva said there is only one reason the group of gunmen, who he believes were military in plainclothes, wanted to grab him.
 
“They want to make sure that we don’t mobilize our people for street protests. So they are targeting people like me because they know I will be instrumental in mobilizing people,” he said.
Dashed hopes for a new chapter
 
The election was supposed to be a new chapter for Zimbabwe, a way for the government to end sanctions from Western powers and convince investors to come back.
 
But the opposition refuses to concede the poll, claiming widespread rigging of the vote. Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, speaking on Friday, called the results “fraudulent and illegal”and pledged to dispute them. To many watching, it’s the old Zimbabwe all over again.
 
“With soldiers unleashing violence against ruling-party opponents, the veneer of respect for human rights and democratic rule that President Emmerson Mnangagwa claimed is now clearly gone,” said Dewa Mavhinga, Southern Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
 
Human Rights Watch and opposition leaders say there have been other kidnapping attempts, that uniformed soldiers have beaten up civilians and that Zanu-PF supporters have harassed MDC supporters in opposition strongholds.
 
“The authorities should immediately halt the abuses by police, soldiers and their armed allies that are causing the human rights situation in Zimbabwe to deteriorate rapidly,” Mavhinga said.
“They should ensure security for all and open credible investigations to hold those responsible for the attacks to account.”
 
Last week, at least six protesters and bystanders were killed when the military moved onto the street using live fire as results started to emerge. Mnangagwa has said he will launch an independent inquiry. Many opposition leaders say that it is the military, not Mnangagwa, that is truly in control. CNN.