By Moses Matenga
Government yesterday claimed opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa, Western diplomats, human rights doctors and lawyers had connived to stage-manage the recent abduction and torture of three MDC Alliance officials to soil President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s image.
Addressing journalists yesterday, Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe said investigations had revealed that Chamisa, churches, Western embassies and the doctors formed part of a “web of lies” over the abduction and alleged sexual abuse of the opposition party youth activists as part of their regime-change agenda.
He claimed that Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) chairperson Fortune Nyamande and his secretary Norman Matara were not resident in the country, but had specifically come to “fake” the abduction.
Kazembe’s remarks came after human rights activists and diplomats last month piled pressure on government to immediately investigate the incident, which left the abductees Joanah Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova physically and psychologically traumatised.
“Very critical questions arise as to whether this chain of events, including the presence of these doctors in Zimbabwe, is coincidental or reflects premeditation and malicious choreography on the part of the victims, those who are helping them and the negative motives of the MDC Alliance,” Kazembe said.
He said the culture of torture, rape and abductions was alien to government, but were “extrapolated” from foreign environments to generate negative sentiment against government “for the benefit of regime change”.
Kazembe, who is the Zanu PF chairman for Mashonaland Central province, where the three were dumped, alleged that the statements by the activists showed glaring signs of “rehearsal” and “even possible coaching”.
“They would feign confusion and hysteria at the mere sight of a policeman,” he said.
“Their doctors and lawyers, who, not by coincidence, hail from the Zimbabwe Human Rights Doctors Association and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, both avid critics of government, jointly claimed that the trio were too traumatised psychologically and, therefore, under heavy sedation which rendered it impossible for them to undergo any interviews.”
Kazembe alleged the three went into Chamisa’s private offices where they took a “substantial amount of time”’, this, after they had gone around the Kopje area, where “another pro-MDC Alliance support organisation”, the Counselling Services Unit, was located.
“The evidence also places the trio somewhere in the Kopje area around the vicinity of the Fidelity Life Towers before they moved to the vicinity of Advocates Chambers in Old Mutual Building, where Chamisa’s private offices are incidentally located. They spent substantial unexplained time in both locations,” he claimed.
The Home Affairs minister accused the opposition in Zimbabwe of habitually faking abductions and disappearances ahead of major international events to score political goals.
Kazembe also said the three feigned abduction as a “desperate attempt” to qualify for a United States 10-month scholarship.
Kazembe’s accusations immediately drew fire from the organisations, which angrily dismissed his outburst as part of government’s “attempt to cover up” its poor human rights record.
Roselyn Hanzi, executive director of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, rubbished the government claims.
“All I can say is, on allegations that we are an appendage, if he has been following our work, it speaks for itself in terms of broad rights that we seek to protect through our works,” she said.
“In terms of his views as a minister with regards to what is supposed to be an on-going investigation, we will issue a formal response on that and will indicate what we will be doing in response to that. He raises very serious issues we need to respond to formally.”
MDC Alliance deputy spokesperson Clifford Hlatshwayo said Zanu PF was acting desperate yet it was clear they had a record of abducting, torturing and killing opposition supporters.
He cited the case of Zimbabwe Peace Project director Jestina Mukoko, who was reported missing in 2008 before surfacing weeks later in the hands of State agents after she was tortured together with other activists.
He also cited the forced disappearance of Itai Dzamara in March 2015 and alleged the killing of several opposition MDC supporters as clear evidence that Zanu PF and the government were acting as a “terrorist organisation”.
“It is well known who is responsible for manning roadblocks and in the case of our party cadres, the police confirmed they were arrested and were in police cells when they disappeared, only for the government to later backtrack,” he said.
“Zanu PF is behaving like a terrorist organisation. They are very cruel and think people are objects they can abuse, torture and rape. We are all God’s people and time will come when all this will end, the time is now.”
Both Nyamande and Matara said their lawyers were drafting a statement following Kazembe’s accusations.
Chamisa refused to comment on Kazembe’s statements, but on Wednesday, after attending the court case for his lawyer, advocate Thabani Mpofu, he told journalists that the situation obtaining in Zimbabwe was clear evidence that Mnangagwa was a worse dictator than the late former President Robert Mugabe.
Meanwhile, the National Prosecution Authority has applied for variation of bail conditions for the three activists alleging that the trio wants to escape Zimbabwe, hence they want their passports returned. NewsDay