THE recent spate of abductions, assaults of political and human rights activists as well as civil society players has tainted the President Emmerson Mnangagwa-led administration’s image, threatening to derail re-engagement efforts that are an important cog in the overall revival of the country’s fortunes.
In the run-up to the MDC demonstration on Friday August 16, human rights defender Tatenda Mombeyarara was abducted at his Chitungwiza home in the dead of the night, beaten up and left for dead. This was followed by the abduction of Mufakose MDC youth leader Blessing Kanotunga allegedly in connection with a workshop held in the Maldives.
Following the MDC demonstration stand-up comedienne Samantha Kureya, popularly known as Gonyeti in her Bus Stop TV comedy skits, was abducted from her home and tortured by suspected State security agents.
Although government has not been able to make any arrests yet, there is a pattern to the abductions — they were carried out by armed men who were masked and took their victims away in a vehicle. They are well-planned and well-orchestrated. Whether the abductors had real guns or not, the fact remains they were armed.
The onus is on government to apprehend the culprits and bring them to face justice. Citizens should live in peace with the knowledge that their government protects them all the time.
These abductions might be intended to instill fear, not only in the victims but also other activists that they are being watched.
There have been claims the abductors have nothing to do with government but are part of the activities being orchestrated by a third force whatever that is meant to imply, according to Information permanent secretary Nick Mangwana.
Government has the apparatus to exploit in dealing with these violations. Meanwhile the west, as well as the United States, have been calling for cessation of these rights violations as one of the pre-conditions for re-engagement with Zimbabwe. In short, what government is doing or is failing to do, jeopardises the country’s position in the community of nations.
For most Zimbabweans, these abductions are sad reminders of the dark period superintended by ousted former president Robert Mugabe when killings, abductions, torture and arbitrary beatings were the order of the day.
They remain affronts on the creation of democratic space. These have to come to an end sooner rather than later because Mnangagwa promised to be a listening president on assuming office.