By Luke Batsirai Tamborinyoka
It is exactly 10:47 hrs on a serene Friday morning. An ambulance screeches to an agonizing halt outside Parktown Hospital near Waterfalls, some 15 kilometers south of Harare.
A visibly traumatized female patient, face contorted and hair disheveled, is being helped out. Her face partially covered, the ambulance crew stretcher her out at breathtaking speed into the infirmary to avoid the desperate news-hounds jostling for the prized photograph of this ghost-like figure visibly grimacing in pain.
It is clear the unfortunate woman is more desperate than the press corps. While the latter is stampeding for a simple scoop and a headline, the former is barely clinging to dear life!
It turns out the unfortunate woman at the mercy of the clicking cameras is Hon. Joanah Mamombe, the MP for Harare West. She has just had further scans and examinations done by a team of doctors in the city.
But the scary sight before us is starkly different from the affable, bubbly and beautiful legislator that our mortal eyes are accustomed to. Joanah is haggard and looks like an apparition, which is understandable given what she has gone through in the past 24 hours.
Already inside the hospital and wailing in agony are two other dedicated warriors for change, her colleagues Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova. The three MDC cadres were taken from inside a police station, driven to an unknown forest inside a fittingly black Datsun Wish vehicle where they were sexually abused, tortured and dumped some 70 kilometers away.
Theirs is a horrific tale of how they were taken from inside a police station, driven to a forest and taken into a pit where the solemn and despicable script of their predicament began.
Not only were they sexually abused. They had their breasts suckled by Emmerson Mnangagwa’s merchants of terror. Their anal regions were brutally pierced by gun bayonets while they were fed with a ghoulish faecal diet.
Yes, they were made to eat each others’ faeces and to drink each others’ urine by the regime’s morbid securocrats.
Welcome to Zimbabwe’s Second Republic.
Indeed, welcome to our “new dispensation”. A dispensation that is shouting engagement but practically doing all it can to disengage from the rest of the civilized world!
With a government that sexually abuses women including an Honourable Member of Parliament, who else can be accused of inviting so-called sanctions?
From the pits where many horrible and despicable things were done to them, they do not even remember much else. All they remember is that after what seemed like eternity, now with their clothes torn, they were dumped in the deathly quiet of the morning at some rural growth point where a sympathizer picked them up.
The place turned out to be the appropriately named Muchapondwa shops in Bindura South in Mashonaland Central province, some 70 kilometers away from the capital.
Muchapondwa is a Shona word which literally means “you shall be killed.” This is the place where the three female MDC cadres were found dumped and left for dead by the regime’s merchants of death.
Muchapondwa—the place whose name has a deathly ring to it.
The route they took will never be known, as the Devil’s itinerary is always a closely guarded secret!
We shall never know whether the three grave cadres were taken along the Shamva road, past Denda shops after turning left at Chabwino, via Mupandira and Nyava shopping centers before arriving at Muchapondwa.
We shall never know whether these peddlers of violence chose to go via Mazowe road to Bindura before turning right past Trojan Mine, Manhenga, then Chiveso before dumping their brutalized human cargo at Muchapondwa.
Or whether these merchants of darkness used the more direct route via my beloved Domboshava, past my late mother Pelagia Makumbe’s homestead at Makumbe village, negotiating those dangerous and nervy curves at Cheza before crossing the dry Nyaure river to bundle out their unwilling passengers at Muchapondwa.
Whichever of these three routes they used, what is certain is that it was a route to national shame.
It is an indictment against this illegitimate regime that it could allow State-paid merchants of violence to abuse defenseless women a mere four days after Mothers’ Day; that day when the chastity of feminine power is celebrated worldwide.
How could any sane person abuse and indignify women, including a revered Member of Parliament barely 96 hours after the world has celebrated the chastity of women?
Nothing beats this barbarism, which is well beneath the sacred value of humanity—ubuntu.
The police owe this nation an explanation as to how these women were taken out of their custody. The police spokesperson Paul Nyathi had confirmed to a local daily that they had three women in their custody. Hours later, the ZRP tweeted that the women were not in their custody.
Someone must tell us what happened between the time of confirmation and the time of denial.
Who could have the temerity to abduct people from inside a police station, unless it was the police themselves who handed over these women to a more insidious State security unit?
I am well aware that the police can hand you over to more ruthless goons. Some 13 years ago, I was brutally assaulted and tortured together with several other party colleagues inside the infamous room 93in the basement of the Law and Order section at Harare Central police station.
Yes, that misnamed room where neither law nor order prevails!
The room has visible blood stains on the walls—probably a trick to unsettle you psychologically. And I knew the guys who brutalized us for three continuous days without food and water were definitely not police.
But when the police hand you over and allow you to be taken out of their custody, as happened to the three female cadres, it can only be worse. I have a sneaking feeling the police tweet announcing that the three were no longer in their custody was a feeble attempt to absolve themselves by letting the world know that the “prisoners” were now being held by a separate, more callous unit of the State. I still have the hunch that the tweet was a Pontus Pilate gesture by the police to wash their hands to absolve themselves from what was to come.
In case something happened to the three women, the police might have been absolving themselves of any responsibility, Yet ED can’t absolve himself. It’s his government so he must take responsibility.
Listening to the girls’ sordid and horrific tales of abuse and torture is akin to listening to a story of death. Their lives will never be the same again, given the visible trauma and fear that is instill palpable in their eyes. Indeed, something inside them has died. I still have the same feeling after my own traumatic experience as I still can’t stand the sound of banging doors.
It must be said that SADC and Africa have let Zimbabweans down. Unless these brothers and sisters of ours want first to literally see rivers of flowing blood in the country for them to appreciate that there is a crisis in Zimbabwe. Otherwise what will it take for drastic action to be taken against this deranged man on the citadel of power?
First it was August 1 2018, when this regime’s soldiers callously murdered six people in broad daylight. SADC and Africa maintained the silence of the grave.
Today, one of the widows of the slain six, Suspicious Kumire from Domboshava, is having to do menial jobs at Santa Heights private school, an opportunity given to her by the benevolent principal Mrs Mapfumo so she can raise fees for her two children that are enrolled there.
It is always a dispiriting sight to see this mother and the hapless kids that have been orphaned by Mnangagwa’s guns. Yet the scarfed murderer lied to diplomats that his government was owning up to its culpability by looking after the orphans, in line with the recommendations of a Commission that he set up himself. However, the situation on the ground is that the widows, widowers and orphans are suffering,
Still, SADC and Africa keep loudly quiet.
Then we saw more violence in January 2019 when several more innocent Zimbabweans were killed by State security agents. The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, an independent Constitutional Commission, investigated and held the State liable for those murders.
Still, SADC and Africa have kept sonorously quiet.
Yet Article 4(h) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union allows the continent to intervene in member States in respect of “grave circumstances.” What more “grave circumstances” is Africa waiting for when three innocent women, including a member of Parliament, are taken from police custody by State security agents, are sexually abused and made to eat their own faeces and drink their urine ? Article 4(o) of the same Constitutive Act of the AU calls for the rejection of impunity on the continent yet we are seeing the ghastly and abominable version of the same impunity in Harare.
Yet SADC and the whole of Africa have lost their voice. Not even a whimper of condemnation!
Maybe we are expecting too much from our African leaders. These are the same guys who on 27 June 2014 came up with the Malabo protocol, which they have not even ratified.
The protocol, aimed at expanding the remit and mandate of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, contains Article 46 A in which sitting African Heads of State have made themselves immune from any manner of investigation and prosecution while still in office.
The world has equally let us down. By now the International Criminal Court would have pounced on Mnangagwa for gross crimes against humanity, as it has done before when it intervened in countries that are non-State parties to the Rome Statute.
Yet the politics of the referral system, the duplicity of the big powers, the geopolitics of the UN Security Council, including the abuse of the veto power, will mean that the deranged Mnangagwa will be shielded by his known allies in the P5 from prosecution.
It is unfortunate, if not wicked and unfair to the three girls, that the very valid objection to the so-called African docket and the understandable outcry against the fact that the majority of the P5 members in the UN Security Council are themselves not signatories to the Rome Statute are both giving murderous regimes such as the one in Harare the perfect excuse to roam scot free.
ED and his merchants of violence have found convenient succour and a perfect sanatorium in the porous and imperfect international criminal justice system.
Through the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), the world has made a promise to the vulnerable and the violated, a promise that it is failing to fulfill—the promise that the world will not stand by and watch while rogue regimes runamok. Yet people are being killed and abused in Zimbabwe and no one cares a hoot.
We are simply on our own.
His hands dripping in the blood of the country’s citizens, Mnangagwa still bestrides the country like an untouchable Colossus, well aware of the weaknesses of international criminal law. After all, nothing has happened to him, notwithstanding an unchecked and an unparalleled blood-soaked legacy that stretches back to Gukurahundi, if not before.
Maybe it is time for us to ignore this lockdown. Maybe, just maybe, it is time to lock up our courage, buckle ourselves up and confront this regime.
You could say there is a pandemic out there but this regime is a worse virus than Covid-19. They can come to your house and rape your wife or kill your children, even if you are in isolation and you have numerous masks and sanitizers.
No one is safe from this corona government!
No mask or sanitizer can protect you from this murderous regime of Emmerson Mnangagwa. Joanna, Cecilia and Netsai had their PPEs but they still could not mask themselves from the naked brutality of this despotic regime. Corona or no corona, we are at the mercy of these vampires in government.
You could presume yourselves to be safe from Covid-19 but there is no guarantee you are safe from this scarfed corona virus that is illegitimately holding the levers of the State.
No leader voted by the people can murder, rape and abuse in this horrendous way the same citizenry that elected them into office. This callousness betrays his presence at the helm of the State has nothing to do with the people.
Maybe, just maybe, it’s better to die of Covid-19 in a gathering in the streets than to be plucked away alone to your abuse and to your death from what you may presume to be the safety of your homes.
It may be worthwhile being gathering to confront than remaining alone to be confronted!
Do you think these thugs were maintaining social distance when they were abusing these women? A government that tapes and sexually abuses women? Indeed, Mnangagwa is simply worse than the coronavirus.
What happened to these three grave cadres from our own version of Hitler’s could happen to you, your sister or your daughter. Pastor Martin Niemoller, a German Lutheran pastor, had this today about Hitler during the horrific era of of the Third Reich.
“First, they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me— and there was no one left to speak for me.
So in the same vein, tomorrow, Mnangagwa’s regime may be coming for you………
Luke Batsirai Tamborinyoka is the Deputy National Spokesperson of the MDC-Alliance and a former Spokesperson to the late opposition leader and Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Morgan Richard Tsvangirai. He is a multiple award-winning journalist and who once served as the elected secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists.
He is an ardent political scientist who won the Book Prize for best student when he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science at the University of Zimbabwe. You can interact with him on Facebook or on the twitter handle @luke_tambo.