BY MOSES MATENGA
ZANU PF is deeply divided over claims that soldiers were beating up people in Gokwe-Nembudziya with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ally, Justice Mayor Wadyajena, saying the claim was a ploy to tarnish the country’s image.
Gokwe-Nembudziya senator Maybe Mbowa, who is the ruling party’s women’s league political commissar, recently claimed that soldiers had become a menace in the district where they were harassing people.
Mbowa’s claims unwittingly gave credence to reports of human rights violations by the military, but the government and Zanu PF have often denied the allegations.
Wadyajena, who is both MP and the party’s district co-ordinating committee chairperson for Gokwe-Nembudziya, yesterday denied that soldiers were wreaking havoc in the district.
“I wish to categorically disassociate Gokwe-Nembudziya constituency and myself from the mischievous and poisonous comments recently made by Senator Maybe Mbowa on fictional military brutality in Nembudziya constituency,” Wadyajena said.
“I take great exception to this sinister plot by Ms Mbowa to ruin the image of the government and His Excellency Cde ED Mnangagwa as Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
“Her actions are intended to harm the image of the country and our President in line with the impending sanctions review by the United States, the European Union and also as a justification for the recent United Kingdom embargo on some security service chiefs on the basis of human rights violations.”
The United Kingdom this week placed Mnangagwa’s four security chiefs under sanctions over their alleged involvement in the 2018 and 2019 killings of civilians by the army.
The international community has accused Harare of human rights violations with the military accused of harassing citizens.
Wadyajena said it was not surprising that Mbowa’s audio was first published in foreign media outlets to tarnish the image of the country.
“What is expressed in the audio that she has been circulating are her own fabrications and as the Gokwe-Nembudziya MP, I wish to state that no such beatings or attacks ever took place in Nembudziya.
“I have challenged Ms Mbowa and her associates to produce a single shred of evidence of the said attacks and she has repeatedly failed to do so. Failure by Ms Mbowa and her associates to also report their claims of harassment of the villagers to the Zimbabwe Republic Police speaks volumes about the validity and authenticity of her story and confirms her desire to tarnish the image of President Mnangagwa, the government of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe National Army to the international community.
“These very damaging lies cannot and should not be ignored because of their broader implications locally and globally,” he said.
In a leaked audio discussion with an unidentified person, she addressed as a senior member of the security sector in the district, Mbowa claimed to have received several reports of soldiers harassing villagers.
Mbowa was quoted as saying: “I can phone straight to the President because I suspect there is something happening behind the scenes. I don’t know what it is, but I am even ready to engage their (soldiers’) leader here. You can invite me to your meetings and I talk to them.
“I got several reports and I initially ignored them thinking people were lying. The recent report was about a former teacher who was harassed and was beaten by the soldiers while forcing him to crawl. Another victim was forced into the water. Imagine in these COVID-19 times, someone is forced into the water exposing them to the virus.”
She added: “We want to know what these soldiers stand for. Are they there for the government and are they there to see to it that government regulations have been followed?”
On Thursday, Mbowa said Mnangagwa had intervened and stopped the beatings.
- Follow Moses on Twitter @mmatenga