WHEN one talks about crime-ridden African countries, South Africa quickly comes to mind and only last year 21 000 people were reported to have died violently.
It is never easy to live in such a country where every other second a woman is reportedly raped in broad daylight while one can be robbed with people watching helplessly.
And Zimbabwe has since joined the club as we are now known as a country where people, especially government critics, are just abducted and disappear.
Imagine that since the beginning of the year, we have had at least 50 citizens abducted by masked men, most of them wielding rifles.
Those abducted citizens have narrated horror stories of torture at the hands of their captors; stories that sound similar in nature that you would think they are scripted.
The abductors have remained hidden behind their masks and no one seems to know them; even our intelligence arms.
What they have done is instil fear in law-abiding citizens and it is sad that when people from other countries talk of Zimbabwe today; they also talk of how dangerous it is here with people disappearing and their captors never getting apprehended.
The idea of abductions and disappearances scare away potential tourists because when they visit they expect to be protected.
But if Zimbabweans cannot be protected by their own government as is happening now, how can foreigners have confidence in our security systems?
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government should desist from seeing shadows everywhere as most of those being targeted are critics of his government.
If government security agents are not conducting these abductions as they claim, then they should absolve themselves and apprehend those doing it.
As long as the culprits are not brought to book and remain hidden behind their masks, we will still point our fingers at the security sector as the perpetrators; otherwise how can anyone explain these barbaric and devilish acts?
What is frightening Zimbabweans is that we have had a case in the past in which human rights defender and former ZBC broadcaster Jestina Mukoko was abducted from her home in 2008 for weeks without trace, with the security sector denying involvement only for her to resurface at a police station!
The seemingly cryptic story of medical doctor Peter Magombeyi, who was allegedly abducted last Saturday but surfaced on Thursday in a bushy area in Nyabira, makes the situation even trickier.
More frightening for Zimbabweans is that journalist Itai Dzamara, who was also abducted, disappeared without trace. Four years have elapsed since his disappearance on March 9, 2015.
These masked men, whoever they are, are operating as a mafia and should be stopped in their tracks before things get out of hand.
If the police and intelligence service are not responsible for the abductions as the ministry of Home Affairs wants us to believe, then they should tell us who is.
But while Dzamara has had his family and civil society fighting for his safe return without success, subsequent alleged abductions have the potential to complicate Mnangagwa’s rule.
In life what ignites fires are these little sparks and disappearances are proving just that as the whole nation expects answers on who is responsible for the kidnappings.
Zimbabweans are crisis-weary given the economic challenges the country is going through. This could galvanise them into becoming more and more confrontational.
Mnangagwa has a lot on his hands and he has to act on these issues as soon as possible to avoid having the country descending into chaos.
lWilson is DOP president