GLOBAL human rights watchdog, Human Rights Watch (HRW) last week released a damning report, describing Zimbabwe’s human rights record as appalling despite President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s reform pledges.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
The report cited fatal shooting incidents that occurred last year involving State security agencies and alleged abductions and torture of civilians as tainting the country’s human rights record.
“Despite President Mnangagwa repeatedly voicing his commitments to human rights reforms, Zimbabwe remained highly intolerant of basic rights, peaceful dissent and free expression in 2019,” the HRW report read.
“During nationwide protests in mid-January, following the President’s sudden announcement of a fuel price increase, security forces responded with lethal force, killing at least 17 people, raping at least 17 women, shooting and injuring 81 people and arresting over 1 000 suspected protesters during door-to-door raids.”
The rights body said several civil society activists, political opposition leaders and other critics of the government were arbitrarily arrested, abducted, beaten or tortured, yet little to no efforts were made to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Some of those who were abducted and tortured last year included comedienne Samantha Kureya, who is popularly known as “Gonyeti”, Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association president Peter Magombeyi and Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe leader Obert Masaraure, among others.
“On September 14, as reported by the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association, three unidentified men abducted Magombeyi, a government employee and leader of the doctors’ union that had organised a series of protests to demand better salaries for government doctors. Prior to his abduction, according to his family and colleagues who spoke to HRW, Magombeyi received a text message from a local mobile number threatening him with disappearance.
“Zimbabwe’s Health minister Obadiah Moyo confirmed on September 16 that Magombeyi was missing and claimed to have activated all State security ministries to secure his whereabouts. After four days of torture and harassment, Magombeyi’s abductors dumped him outside Harare,” the HRW said.
In Parliament, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi claimed the alleged abductions and torture of civilians were false.
The human rights watchdog said the late former President Robert Mugabe should also have been held accountable for his documented human rights violations during the 37 years he was in power.