By Moses Matenga
Government yesterday accused opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa of putting people’s lives in danger by embarking on unsanctioned demonstrations, but was mum on the alleged abduction and assault of opposition politicians which has provoked an international outcry.
Speaking at the National Heroes Acre while presiding over the burial of Zanu PF politburo member Absolom Sikhosana, who died last Friday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa accused Chamisa of staging reckless protests for “political grandstanding”.
Harare West MP Joanah Mamombe, MDC Alliance youth leaders Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova were reportedly abducted following their arrest for staging a flash demonstration in Warren Park, last Wednesday.
The three were later found dumped in Bindura, 80km north of the capital, and are currently admitted at a private hospital in Waterfalls, Harare, receiving treatment, while police have said they are conducting investigations into the alleged abduction and torture.
Mnangagwa has remained mum on the incident despite condemnation from Western diplomats and his own advisers in the Presidential Advisory Council.
Yesterday, he warned Chamisa: “We must never endanger the lives of our people through illegal, reckless and unwarranted demonstrations for political grandstanding. We are one people, one nation, one Zimbabwe.”
Critics have said since last year, Mnangagwa has been suffocating the democratic space, prohibiting all MDC Alliance protests and rallies as dissent continues to grow over the deteriorating economic situation in the country.
Past protests under Mnangagwa have resulted in fatalities, with the 2019 January fuel price hike protests claiming 18 lives, according to human rights lobby groups, while the 2018 post-election protests claimed six, all killed by State security agents.
MDC Alliance deputy spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka lashed out at Mnangagwa, saying it was confirmation that the State was involved in the abduction of the three opposition officials.
“The statement is a tacit admission that the government is liable and culpable to the brutality and sexual abuse of these people,” Tamborinyoka said.
“If people commit a crime, they will be arrested by the police and taken to a competent court of law and face charges, not to be raped and abused. He is basically saying he is responsible for what happened to the three girls.”
Among the strongest critics have been Mnangagwa’s advisers, top lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, the international community, the opposition, among others, but government remained adamant, accusing the trio of stage-managing the abductions.
Cleric and one of Mnangagwa advisers, Shingi Munyeza, and business executive Busisa Moyo have publicly condemned the abduction, accusing Mnangagwa’s regime of being complicit.
But Mnangagwa’s spokesperson, George Charamba hit back at Munyeza and Moyo, saying the advisers were “now advising the public and not the President”.
“They are advising the public not the President,” Charamba said in an interview with NewsDay at the National Heroes Acre yesterday.
“Definitionally, an adviser is the proverbial whisper behind the throne, he is not a yell on a rooftop, so really, they have condemned themselves as advisers and we don’t take notice of.
“We will leave them to wallow in the wilderness like the prophets of Yore.”
Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has hinted that the three MDC Alliance officials could be arrested and charged for breaking lockdown rules. News Day