By Lance Guma
[twitter-follow username=”lanceguma” scheme=”dark”]
The Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Didymus Mutasa, led violent political campaigns in his Headlands constituency and other parts of the country.
As a former Minister responsible for the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) he often used its agents to commit some of the atrocities.
In 2002 Mutasa shocked Zimbabweans when he blatantly said he would not care if 6 million people died because of food shortages, as the country would be better off with ZANU PF members only.
During that time ZANU PF was notorious for politicising the distribution of food aid, especially in rural areas, and hunger was widespread.
In February this year, Zimbabwe was shocked by the gruesome murder of Christpowers Simbarashe Maisiri, the 12 year old boy from Headlands who died after the hut he was sleeping in was burnt down by Zanu PF thugs.
Implicated in the murder were Gilbert Makura (Zanu PF district chairperson for Village 47), Isaac Dhogo (Dobo), Annah Mumbana and Tendai Gosho (Zanu PF district chairlady) who all work for Mutasa the local MP.
Sadly this was not the first time Mutasa had victimised the Maisiri family.
The child’s father, prominent MDC-T activist Shepherd Maisiri, a poor farmer in the Inyati Resettlement area, has suffered relentless persecution by Mutasa since 1999. In addition to being abducted and tortured, his homestead has been burnt a record seven times in the past 10 years.
The people assigned by Mutasa to carry out these abuses over the years have been identified as Walter Rushambwa, Maxwell Chidzambwa, Punish Mhiripiri, Walter Mhepo (now deceased), Kainos Chidzambwa, Albert Makura, ZRP police Inspector Muchazorwa and Lovemore Manenji.
In one incident Maisiri was put into a jute bag, bundled into Punish Mhiripiri’s truck and dumped in the Rusape Dam. He was only saved by fishermen laying their nets during that night.
On the 3rd January 2008, Maisiri was in Harare when he was again manhandled by two men who took him to a waiting car. To his surprise Mutasa was there and personally threatened him before driving off. Later that day a man and a woman followed Maisiri to Mbare Musika.
“They boarded the same bus with him to Mutare, where he was arrested on arrival, put into cells and released. The two people who had followed him from Harare were at the police station when he was released; Maisiri sensing danger managed to outmanoeuvre them and escaped to Mozambique that same night.”
Mutasa’s thugs however were not done with Maisiri. With the MDC-T activist hiding in Mozambique, one of the thugs, identified as Lovemore Manenji, raped Maisiri’s wife on the 23rd June 2008 as punishment ‘for hiding her husband.’
In a rare case of prosecution, Manenji was last year sentenced to 32 years in prison for raping two MDC supporters including Maisiri’s wife.
Manenji, 56, who is also a bishop at Mabasa Avapositori Church, was found guilty of five counts of rape and sentenced to 32 years in prison by Rusape regional magistrate, Hosea Mujaya.
In the run up to the one man presidential run-off election in June 2008, Mutasa unleashed an unprecedented orgy of terror and torture of MDC-T supporters in Headlands, the whole of Rusape and its environs.
Residents of Rusape urban reported that Mutasa took over some properties and used them to house hordes of armed youths/operatives that he used to terrorize MDC-T supporters in Headlands and Makoni constituencies.
Below are accounts of some of the horrible incidents in which Mutasa was directly involved or is alleged to have sponsored.
On the 22nd May 2008 another activist, Taurayi Kamuchira, was abducted by ZANU PF militia under instruction from Mutasa. They took him to Chinyamukamani base where youths led by Phillip Mushayi assaulted him with logs, iron bars and whips. Kamuchira died during the assault.
Philip Mushayi addressed the MDC-T activists detained at the base, telling them what had happened to Kamuchira was going to be their fate as well. He said Mutasa had given them authority to kill anyone who supported MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai so they were safe from arrest.
On the 25th June 2008 armed youths deployed by Mutasa wreaked havoc in the Eagles Nest area of Headlands and were seen driving around in two vehicles, one of them reported to be Mutasa’s Toyota Venture.
Masitafundikera Gumura was attacked at his home by this gang after they accused him of leading MDC activities in that area. The attack was so ruthless that Gumura died during the assault.
His wife Aquiline Sanzvengwa Gumura was also assaulted and sustained severe injuries all over her body. She was taken to hospital the following morning but passed away on the 28th June 2008.
On the 25th June 2008, Mutasa’s gang also pounced on Robert Ziyengwa and his wife at their home in Headlands.
The elderly couple was accused of supporting the MDC-T. The gang used pieces of wood, iron bars and gun butts to assault them. The beating was so severe the elderly couple also died during the assault.
In another incident on the same day residents in the Eagles Nest area were targeted by Mutasa’s gang, which included ZANU PF youths and CIO operatives.
Defenceless villagers were killed in cold blood while the police refused to intervene. Some were beaten to death and others were stabbed. Also killed was MDC activist Sandros Mandizha.
June 27, 2008: Taurai Zindomba, another small scale farmer in the headlands area was attacked at his home by a gang of Zanu PF youths and operatives from Rusape. This barbaric gang used barbed wire and a knife to tear and pull Taurai’s intestines out. He died instantly.
His brothers Abel and Sternly, touched by what happened to their brother, wept in grief and were savagely assaulted sustaining serious injuries. Fortunately they survived.
On July 30, 2009 in the Macheke resettlement areas, a 16 year old boy Arnold Mosterd died after being beaten by Zanu PF supporters who accused him of supporting the MDC. Arnold was killed after he had asked for his outstanding wages from his previous employer a local Zanu PF Chairman Harry Munetsi.
The seven people who killed Arnold were arrested by the police but Didymus Mutasa MP ordered their release. Mutasa ordered the villagers in the area to deal with any strangers who would come into the area inquiring about the death.
Terence Ranger, Emeritus Professor of history at Oxford, has described Didymus Mutasa as “a ruthless and acquisitive politician who is notorious for using violence against his political opponents.”
Even Zanu PF members have not been spared the wrath of his violent and ruthless ill temper. In 2005 Mutasa was reported to have abducted a Zanu PF war veteran (Nyakuedzwa) and pounded him to near death after he dared to challenge his nomination during Zanu PF primary elections in Rusape.
Didymus Mutasa has the blood of many people on his hands and in a new Zimbabwe, he will be one of many senior Zanu PF people that will be hauled before the courts and answer to charges of sanctioning the mass murder of hundreds of people in their constituencies.