By Swithern Chirowodza
The MDC Alliance in Bulawayo condemns the abductions, intimidation, torture and arrests of its members, human rights activists, students and recent harassment of relatives of a journalist in Bulawayo by suspected state security agents in the wake and aftermath of the #31JULY 2020 PEACEFUL PROTEST. We demand an end to human rights abuses!
We call on the government of Emmerson Mnangagwa to uphold the Constitution of Zimbabwe (Amendment No 20). Contrary to a televised address, delivered to citizens on Tuesday, August 4, 2020, in which Mnangagwa portrayed Zimbabwe as being susceptible to what he called “machinations by destructive opposition terrorist groupings,” we want to make it clear that hate speech is universally condemned and that HAVING A DIFFERENT OPINION IS NOT A CRIME IN ZIMBABWE.
Section 60 (b) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe (Amendment No 20) states that “every person has the right to freedom of conscience, which includes freedom to practise and propagate and give expression to their thought, OPINION, religion or belief, whether in public or in private and whether alone or together with others.”
Equally, organising and participating in a peaceful demonstration has never been a crime warranting abductions, intimidation, torture and arrests. Section 59 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 20) clearly states that “every person HAS THE RIGHT TO DEMONSTRATE and to present petitions ….”
Hence planning peaceful demonstrations does not make one a terrorist.
On the contrary, the Oxford English Dictionary defines terrorism | ˈtɛrərɪzəm |
noun [mass noun] as “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, ESPECIALLY AGAINST CIVILIANS, in the pursuit of political aims.”
Therefore, for any country on earth, it is state terrorism to unleash security forces on unarmed citizens whose crime is merely to express their dissatisfaction with poor governance.
We thus, with particular reference to Zimbabwe, bemoan the presence of armed, “unknown” gangs terrorising the political and democratic space and demand that the state disabuses Zimbabweans of the creeping belief that it may be complicit of state terrorism.
We demand that the state accords citizens their right to personal security in terms of Section 52 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe (Amendment No 20).
It is public knowledge that organisers of the would be #31JULY 2020 PEACEFUL PROTEST assured a peaceful demonstration in order to obtain the solidarity of the MDC Alliance.
Consequently, July 31, 2020 and the #31JULY 2020 PEACEFUL PROTESTS have come and gone without any incident of violence by the protesters. It therefore befuddles the mind why suspected state security agents continue to abduct and severely torture MDC Alliance members.
We also note that despite the abductions, intimidation, torture and arrests of MDC Alliance members, Section 59 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 20) clearly states that “every person HAS THE RIGHT to demonstrate and to present petitions ….”
This section finds solidarity in Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, which states that “every individual shall have the right to express and disseminate his opinions within the law.”
We further note that incessant abductions, intimidation, torture, arrests, disappearances, killings and other forms of persecution constitute a sanction by Zanu PF on the people of Zimbabwe.
To that end the following peace-loving Zimbabweans were affected by the brutality of suspected state security agents.
1. Garikai Mugova:
On June 17, 2020, well before the #31JULY 2020 PEACEFUL PROTEST was planned, some unidentified suspicious-looking men, driving a silver Isuzu truck, without number plates, visited MDC Alliance Bulawayo Provincial Youth Vice Organising Secretary, Garikai Mugova’s house and enquired on his whereabouts. Garikai escaped before the men could identify him. MDC Alliance Bulawayo Province published information about this incident in which Mugova, the younger brother to the late MP for Nkulumane, Thamsanqa Mahlangu, is quoted saying: “Pane Isuzu yesilver yasvika ikabvunza kuti ndiriko here yabva yaparker pagate pangu apa haina manumber plates Pedza ipapo vabuda vese hamuna munhu mukati.”
Strangers arrive at Garikai Mugova’s house, ask for him, find no one then park their Isuzu truck (with no number plates) outside gate. Garikai, an ever abiding @nelsonchamisa adherent, is younger brother to the late Nkulumane MP, Thamsanqa Mahlangu @mdczimbabwe @NehandaRadio pic.twitter.com/AaI7KCeM7r
— MDC Alliance Bulawayo Province (@mdc_bulawayo) June 17, 2020
2. Kelvin Moyo:
MDC Alliance Bulawayo Provincial Youth Acting Organising Secretary, Kelvin Moyo was on July 21, 2020 summoned by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Law & Order Department whose details demanded to know the plans for the #31JULY 2020 PEACEFUL PROTEST. ZRP only released Kelvin after he engaged a lawyer. Also senior members of the party raised the stakes by phoning Bulawayo Central Police Station to complain against abuse by state security officials.
3. Takunda Madzana:
MDC Alliance National Youth Secretary for Cadreship Development, Takunda Madzana was, on the night of July 26, 2020, between 23:00 & 00:00 hrs, abducted from his Magwegwe home by suspected state security agents and later dumped after horrendous torture, which among other diabolic acts included being immersed in and out of a pool of water and electric shocks on the soles of his feet. The suspected state security agents grabbed US$50 from Takunda’s home.
4. Mthulisi Hanana:
Mthulisi Hanana is the Director of the Dumiso Dabengwa Foundation. He was attacked by suspected state security agents at about 00:28 hrs on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. Doors to his house were broken using brute force and a gun was pointed “Gukurahundi style” at Mthulisi’s children as the assailants demanded face masks branded with the #ZanuPFMustGo hashtag. According to Mthulisi the suspected state security agents “pointed a gun at 6 week old Wami in a bid to force her mother to reveal my whereabouts.”
At about 1238am today. Suspected state security agents broke into our home looking for #ZanupfMustGo Masks. They pointed a gun at 6 week old Wami in a bid to force her mother to reveal my whereabouts. @zenzele @SiphoMalunga @PacheduZW @Mathuthu @Mamoxn pic.twitter.com/Pc86ePCumG
— Uncle Mthwithi (@MthulisiHanana) July 28, 2020
5. Josphat “Mzaca” Ngulube:
Suspected state security agents, wielding AK 47s, besieged the home of MDC Alliance Bulawayo Youth Assembly Provincial Executive member, Josphat “Mzaca” Ngulube in the early morning hours of July 29, 2020 and broke the doors. The suspected state security agents threatened his family after discovering that Mzaca was not there. Mzaca says the suspected state security agents “took away … documents, all the money in the house and my uncle’s bottle store stock!
They are threatening that I should not lead the demonstration.” Mzaca stated that “these are criminals because they are stealing from us again, taking away groceries and money, they took away 11 000rands and 800usa in my bedroom and 11 000rands and 50usa from the spare bedroom of girls.”
6. Otilia Sibanda:
Former MDC member, Otilia Sibanda was abducted from her house in Bulawayo’s Sizinda Township between 07:00 hrs and 08:00 hrs on the morning of July 29, 2020. Assailants drove a Toyota Platz and Honda Fit. She was tortured and later dumped along Plumtree Road near Mbokodo Butchery.
7. Nyasha Musundire:
MDC Alliance, Bulawayo South Ward 21 Bulawayo Youth Chairman, Nyasha Musundire, was abducted from his home in Sizinda at 22:00 hrs, by three armed suspected state security agents on July 29, 2020. One wore military fatigue with a belt of bullets strapped over his shoulder while two wore ZRP uniforms. Nyasha suspects that he was taken to a stream or river in Matabeleland North where they tortured him heavily while naked. Like Takunda, the torture included being immersed in and out of the water. He was later dumped at the traffic lights in Nkulumane 12.
The three armed suspected state security agents were accompanied by other assailants who remained inside two vehicles that were parked outside Nyasha’s house. Nyasha is receiving medical attention.
8. Swithern Chirowodza:
Suspected state security agents attacked the home of MDC Alliance Bulawayo Provincial Spokesperson, Swithern Chirowodza shortly after midnight on July 30, 2020. To gain entry, the suspected state security agents who brandished AK47s, smashed the window to his thirteen-year old daughter’s bedroom.
They then broke the door to another bedroom, grabbed beverages, a black Samsung cellphone, a DSTV decoder, MDC party regalia, clothing and other valuable household valuables. Chirowodza has not yet made an inventory of stolen material since he has not yet returned to his house for fear of being killed. The thugs told Chirowodza’s daughter to tell her father “tell him we will kill him.”
9. Mduduzi Mathuthu:
Suspected state security agents held the family of Zimlive.com editor Mduduzi Mathuthu hostage on July 30, 2020 after he exposed the COVID-19 procurement corruption scandal. Mathuthu’s sister was only released after an outcry on social media.
This bully boy tactic was used in 1985 against ZAPU stalwart Sidney Malunga. The late ZAPU leader left his house after being tipped off about an impending arrest. Gukurahundists abducted and detained his son Sibusiso and nephew Ronald Ngwenya in order to force Sidney to come out of hiding.
10. Tawanda Muchehiwa:
Tawanda Muchehiwa (22) is a third-year journalism student at the National University of Science & Technology and nephew to Zimlive.com editor Mduduzi Mathuthu. He was abducted by suspected state security agents driving an unmarked vehicle in Bulawayo’s Central Business District on the afternoon of July 30, 2020.
“Falanga” – which is torture by beating of soles of the feet with a blunt object, was a common torture method during ZANU’s early 1980s ethnic cleansing campaign code-named Gukurahundi. It was also used against Remember Moyo, Sazini Ndlovu and other MDC cadres who were falsely accused of killing then Chairman of the November 13, 2001 killing of Bulawayo Province of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Chairman, Cain Nkala.
Several methods of torture including “Falanga” were applied on Tawanda. Unable to walk, with bruises all over his back and on the buttocks, he was dumped three days later near his house in the early morning hours of Sunday July 2, 2020.
11. Tendai Masotsha:
Bulawayo Women’s Assembly Provincial Chairperson, Tendai Masotsha alleges that she was arrested on July 30, 2020 at about 12:23 pm and briefly detained at Bulawayo’s Central Police station. After her release from police custody at or about 19:00 hrs, she was allegedly abducted by suspected state security agents outside Bulawayo Central Police Station i.e. in front of Kumalo Police Station, tortured severely and later dumped at Four Winds Shopping Centre at or about 04:00 hrs on July 31, 2020.
Tendai further alleges “falanga” was applied on the soles of her feet including continuous whipping and being assaulted with open hands. She complains of blood clots on her back and buttocks.
12. Hon Nicola Watson:
Suspected state security agents raided the home of senior MDC Alliance member and Bulawayo Central Member of Parliament, Hon Nicola Watson at 17:30 pm and at 23:00 hrs on July 30, 2020. They demanded to have material to do with the #31JULY 2020 PEACEFUL PROTEST and proceeded to search Hon Nicola Watson’s home in her absence.
The suspected state security agents, armed with a fake search warrant, even broke into one of the servant’s cottages where property belonging to a deceased person was stored. Such is an abomination in all of Zimbabwe’s indigenous traditions.
13. Rodney Jele:
Suspected state security agents stoned MDC Alliance National Youth Secretary for Informal Sector and Livelihoods and Bulawayo Ward 22 Councillor, Rodney Jele’s house on Saturday August 1, 2020 at 00:45 hrs. They smashed all the windows and drove off after attempting to forcefully gain entry. Cllr Rodney Jele has since lodged a report with the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
14. Pashor Sibanda:
MDC Alliance Bulawayo Youth Provincial Secretary, Pashor Sibanda reports that suspected state security agents attacked his Cowdray Park family home, broke the gate keys and used the butt of an AK 47 rifle to smash windows at or about 01:00 hrs on August 2, 2020.
Pashor says the assailants “threatened my family at gunpoint so that they would tell them my whereabouts.” The shocked and confused occupants of the house screamed to draw their neighbours attention. After Pashor’s mum shouted “amasela! (thieves)” the suspected state security agents jumped over the precast wall and ran away.
Suspected state agents attack my house in Cowdray Park,break gate & use AK 47 butt to smash windows at about 01:00 hrs. Shocked, my mum screams “amasela (thieves)” to draw neighbours attention. “Thugs” jump over precast wall & run away. #ZanuPFMustGo pic.twitter.com/mC1dpE0B2s
— PashorRaphaelSibanda (@pashor_sibanda) August 2, 2020
15. Michael Mubasa:
Senior MDC Alliance official, Michael Mubasa’s house in Bulawayo’s Sizinda Township was attacked by about eight suspected state security agents armed with AK 47s at or approximately 02:00 hrs on August 2, 2020. The assailants attempted to burn the house and repeatedly called out Mubasa’s name when they failed to gain entry. Mubasa survived by threatening a suicide arson attack on the house if the assailants dared to enter the house. Mubasa has reported the case to the police despite their poor record in solving similar issues.
From all the abductions and or attacks happening throughout the country it is clear that the suspected spooks are taking advantage of the dusk to dawn curfew, which was imposed purportedly to deal with the COVID-19 or Coronavirus pandemic.
In addition, the aforementioned list of 15 victims of abuse by suspected state security agents is far from complete. We want to state that because many nations abhor human rights abuses, ours is most likely going to retain pariah status in the community of nations if state-sponsored violence continues to be inflicted on unarmed and law-abiding citizens.
For that reason, it must be remembered that MDC lobbied and succeeded in enacting the issue of “Security of Persons and Prevention of Violence” in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) after decades of Zanu PF-inspired state-sponsored violence.
Article 18 of the GPA, which was one of the prerequisites to the formation of the Government of National Unity of 2009 recognised “that violence dehumanises and engenders feelings of hatred and polarisation within the country.”
The same article also “recognised that violence undermines our collective independence as a people and our capacity to exercise our free will in making political choices.”
In addition: That modernity frowns upon medieval forms of violence is evidenced by the enactment of Section 52 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 20), which speaks to the right to personal security:
Every person has the right to bodily and psychological integrity, which includes the right to freedom from all forms of violence from public or private sources.
The foregoing section is supported by Section 53 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 20), which states that:
No person may be subjected to physical or psychological torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Furthermore, Sections 52 and 53 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 20), finds solidarity in Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, which states that:
Every citizen shall have the right to liberty and to the security of his person.
That most abductions were allegedly perpetrated by suspected state security agents, carrying AK 47s, gives rise to a need to examine the suspected assailants’ mode of operation.
During the liberation struggle Russian and Chinese or Maoist guerillas were trained to cooperate with the masses. In war-time allegory guerilla fighters and the masses were respectively likened to the fish and the sea. Hence the Marxist saying that – the fish cannot survive outside the sea because guerillas drew their support from the masses.
It is therefore villainous, if true, that state security agents are either being accused of torturing Zimbabweans, destroying property or dispossessing unarmed MDC Alliance members of their hard-earned foreign currency and other expensive personal belongings.
Such behaviour is akin to the cattle rustling perpetrated by Apartheid South Africa’s Defence Forces against Namibia’s rural communities in the Botha regime’s war against the FAPLA-Cuban Forces. The same tactic was also observed in raids by Alfonso Dhlakama’s Mozambique National Resistance (MNR), itself a creature of Rhodesia’s Military Intelligence Department, which rustled cattle belonging to Chief Chauke of Mahenye Communal Lands in Eastern Zimbabwe.
As a matter of fact, not to be outdone, during the same period, Gukurahundists seized cattle belonging to the respected and legendary Chief Khayisa Ndiweni and have not made any recompense despite the late Robert Mugabe’s several promises to do so.
Therefore, if security forces are truly involved in abductions, intimidation, torture and pillaging of property belonging to Zimbabweans during peace-time, it is superfluous to say that Apartheid South Africa and MNR methods violate the ZANLA and ZPRA war syllabus of “cooperation with the masses.”
As such, it is axiomatic that in spite of their concerted efforts, guerrilla fighters (fish) who habitually pit themselves against the masses (sea), will inevitably compromise their own survival.
MDC ALLIANCE BULAWAYO PROVINCIAL SPOKESPERSON
AUGUST 6, 2020