Zimbabwe has of late recorded an upsurge in incidents of abductions and intimidation of citizens by State security agents as government becomes increasingly intolerant of discontent, human rights watch dog, Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) has indicated in its latest report.
BY SILAS NKALA
Since January, the economy has been on a free-fall, pushing ordinary citizens into poverty and starvation.
In its latest report ZPP said in June there was a marked increase in abductions and intimidation allegedly perpetrated by State security agents; a surge of 74,4% cases since May.
“Opposition MDC activists, labour union representatives from Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) and anyone suspected of planning protests against the worsening economic conditions that the country is facing have all been targeted,” the ZPP report reads.
“ARTUZ president Obert Masaraure was abducted from his home and tortured on June 6 by suspected State agents. The assailants, armed with rifles, broke into Masaraure’s home at midnight, confiscated his wife’s phone and force-marched him to the bushes where he was beaten and interrogated. The perpetrators accused Masaraure of encouraging teachers to revolt against government.”
ZPP said that cases recorded during the month show that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is getting increasingly intolerant to dissent.
“This could explain the 30% increase in violations from the month of May to June from 157 to 204. Mashonaland Central province proved to be the hotspot of intimidation and harassment violations accounting for 40% of cases followed by Harare at 14,9% and Mashonaland East at 12,4%,” the report reads.
“Discrimination most likely around food and other aid distribution also keeps increasing; from 27 cases in May to 33 in the month of June. The increase could be as a result of the worsening economic situation that has led to an increase in the number of vulnerable families. Food aid meant for such families is unfortunately manipulated at distribution points.”
ZPP noted that the Mnangagwa-led administration has resorted to the same tricks of ruling through intimidation and fear that former President Robert Mugabe’s government used to stamp out dissent in its citizens.
“ARTUZ representatives in Harare (Obert Masaraure), Gweru (Godfrey Chanda) and Masvingo (Lawrence Mapengo) have been victimised by State security agents for advocating for a strike protesting poor salaries for teachers. The union representatives are accused of being a destabilising force against the government,” ZPP said.
“This victimisation has degenerated to such (an extent) that Chanda is being hounded out of his job by the community together with headmaster Wapwanyika Blazio Mawire of Chiweshe Primary School where he teaches. Chanda received a signed and stamped letter addressed to the provincial education director on June 14 appealing for the removal of the teacher from the school. The letter listed nine different reasons why he must be removed, ‘Chanda has recently been too political . . . has shown that he cannot teach Zanu PF children’.”
ZPP also noted that opposition political party members or anyone who dared criticise the current regime were being targeted.
It reported that on June 4 in Gutu North Wards 8, 12, 33, 34, and 37 unidentified members of the Criminal Investigation Department and the army went into suspected MDC supporters houses and harassed them at night in connection with planned MDC protests against the country’s deteriorating economic condition.
In Mazowe Central at Tsungubvi Old Clinic in Glendale Ward 17, Zanu PF chairperson Jonathan Kudangirwa, Cain Mota and other party activists reportedly convened a residents meeting on June 7, threatening to deal with petitioners, it added.
“Kudangirwa and his colleagues warned residents not to participate in mass demonstrations. They alleged that the ruling party had acquired enough ammunition to deal with petitioners. They were quoted saying that pfuti tinadzo dzokupfura mapenzi (We have enough guns to shoot fools). They also warned that those who will participate in demonstrations will live to regret it,” ZPP reported.
“The deteriorating economic situation in the country is most certainly an area of concern and may likely be a trigger for volatile reactions from citizens.”
ZPP said cases of abductions and intimidation need be reported and acted upon.
“Therefore, ZPP will be actively working with key stakeholders to ensure that these violations are timely reported and where possible, acted upon to preserve lives,” the report read.
“Threats of aggressively confronting the government (MDC Youth Assembly) together with those of retaliatory responses (Zanu PF) make for a tense and possibly a volatile confrontation between the ruling party and the opposition,” ZPP reported. “. . . .these threats and counter threats may breed a toxic ground for conflict, therefore, ZPP will closely follow unfolding events.”