Striking doctors’ leader ‘abducted’

BY BLESSED MHLANGA/DESMOND CHINGARANDE

THE Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) has raised alarm following the alleged abduction of Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) acting president Peter Magombeyi from his Harare home by three masked men on Saturday night.

At the time of going to print last night, Magombeyi, who is leading doctors’ current strike for better working conditions, had not yet been accounted for. The latest incident comes at a time State security agents are on the spotlight for allegedly leading past abductions of civil society and opposition activists.

ZADHR called on the Health ministry to protect health practitioners from victimisation by suspected State security agents.

“Dr Mangombeyi is leading the current industrial action by government doctors and ZADHR believes his abduction is a result of his activities in defending the rights of health workers. Increased attacks on professionals are an impediment to international re-engagement as it casts a negative perception of the country,” ZADHR said.

In a statement yesterday, ZDHA said: “ZHDA is dismayed and shocked by reports of alleged abduction of its acting president Peter Magombeyi, who has gone missing since the evening of Saturday at 2200 hours in Budiriro. We are informed that he was violently taken away yesterday (Saturday) by three unknown men under the cover of the dark night.”

ZHDA has since called for a shutdown of all public hospitals until the return of its leader.

“Meanwhile, all ZHDA members and other government doctors are advised not to report for work today going forward until Dr Magombeyi is found and every doctor (is) financially capable to resume work.

“At all government hospitals, we are priming the whole membership for widespread demonstrations in protest against this direct violation of the fundamental rights of every Zimbabwean citizen to move freely anywhere in the country without having fear for their lives,” ZHDA said.

Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said they suspected that the abduction of Magombeyi could be the work of a third force working to tarnish the image of the country.

“While the Zimbabwe Republic Police is seized with the matter, we have noted with concern that previously, there were a number of alleged abductions ahead of the Sadc Summit recently held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The possibility of a third force being involved in the alleged abductions for political expedience and to sustain the human rights abuse narrative ahead of the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly cannot be ruled out,” Nyathi said.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police is investigating a report received from an informant that the acting president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), Dr Peter Magombeyi, was last night (Saturday) abducted by three armed unidentified men in Budiriro suburb, Harare. The report was made at 1020 hours this morning,” he said.

Health minister Obadiah Moyo said he had engaged the State Security agencies to assist with information on Magombeyi’s whereabouts.

A wave of abductions hit Zimbabwe following the MDC’s foiled demonstration last month, with a total of eight activists and MDC supporters reportedly assaulted and left for dead.

The abductions and torture of activists and MDC supporters attracted global condemnation, denting President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s re-engagement efforts with the world family of nations.

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