Source: MP relives horrible CIO abduction, torture – The Standard July 17, 2016
MDC-T proportional representation MP, Concillia Chinanzvavana recalls how she was abducted in October 2008 together with her husband and seven other members of the opposition on allegations of terrorism.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
She was abducted the same time human rights activist Jestina Mukoko was also seized by State security agents.
Chinanzvavana, who is the MDC-T secretary for Peace and Transitional Justice, endured horrible experiences at the hands of the police.
She has vowed to fight against enforced disappearances in Zimbabwe through her legislative role in the National Assembly.
“We were abducted on the night of October 30 2008, in the aftermath of the bloody June 2008 run-off elections,” Chinanzvavana narrated.
She said the head of the operation was a top Central Intelligence Organisation operative who is now retired, his wife and a prominent police Law and Order official.
“We were abducted on allegations of terrorism, banditry, sabotage, and insurgency, as well as on allegations of recruiting and training youths for purposes of terrorism at a symposium in neighbouring Botswana,” Chinanzvavana said.
She was taken together with nine other people from Zvimba South, including her husband Emmanuel, who was the then sitting councillor for ward 23.
Others were 72-year-old Fidelis Chisamba, a former policeman who had contested the Zvimba Senate seat in the same election and other MDC party activists, among them the mother of two-year-old Nigel Mutemagawu.
“Initially, we were taken together in a Toyota Venture vehicle — blue in colour. We were blindfolded and kept separately incommunicado for 55 days. ln solitary confinement, we were harassed, tortured and beaten up thoroughly in a bid to make us confess to what we did not do,” she said.
Chinanzvavana said they were detained incommunicado from October 30 up to December 22 2008, after which they were taken to Ahmed House in Harare at the police’s Central Investigations Department (CID) fraud section. They were then told they were now in the hands of the police.
“The officer-in-charge was Superintendent Peter Magwenzi. We were then kept in police custody for two days and two nights for collection of statements, and then taken to court on Christmas eve of 2008,” she recalls.
“We were remanded in custody at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison’s D-section until March 3 2009, when we got out on bail.”
Chinanzvavana and others have since applied to the Constitutional Court for relief, arguing that their abduction and torture was a violation of their human rights.
As secretary for Peace and Transitional Justice in the MDC-T, Chinanzvavana feels abductions are a barbaric act and an international criminal offence.
“I know it is a painful, traumatic and harrowing experience for the children and family of the victim, especially in the case of Itai Dzamara whose whereabouts have been uncertain for over a year,” she said.
“It is painful for the family not to know whether they are grieving for a dead person or not, and the lack of closure to the case leaves a lot of pain that is difficult to heal, if ever.”
One of her most painful moments in Parliament, she said, was when a motion on missing journalist Dzamara was introduced in the National Assembly and some Zanu PF legislators opposed it by ensuring there was no quorum to allow for its discussion.
“I cannot imagine the heartlessness and callousness of those who chose to absent themselves on such a matter of someone’s life or death,” Chinanzvavana said.
She said healing of wounds of victims of abductions and their relatives was essential.
The MDC-T MP said a proper National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) must be set up to deal with issues of truth telling so that the affected people can speak out as part of the healing process.
“The NPRC Bill brought to Parliament by Vice- President Phelekezela Mphoko was decidedly fraudulent,” she said.
“It was not an honest attempt to deal with issues of national healing and failed to consider the people’s views on issues of peace and national healing.”
The MP said it was imperative to have a proper NPRC Bill in place soon, considering that it has a constitutional lifespan and time was ticking away without any healing and truth telling taking place.
“It shows lack of genuine willingness on the part of government for issues of national healing to be dealt with conclusively,” he said.
“A proper NPRC should first acknowledge that atrocities were perpetrated against humanity, and then take into consideration issues of transitional justice, truth telling, and letting the people speak out as it is part of the healing process.
“Only then can we talk of forgiveness, amnesty and compensation, be it individual, in a small way or compensation by the state. The process has to be people-driven, not the minister being overally in charge.”
Chinanzvavana said national healing had to do with people’s souls and needed to be taken seriously and dealt with using measures acceptable to all parties concerned.
“Zimbabwe as a nation is bleeding. People have been maimed physically and spiritually and the wounds are festering,” she said.
“It is only a matter of time before they break, and it only needs an honest approach to transitional justice and truth telling leading to forgiveness.”
Born 44 years ago in Chinhoyi, Chinanzvavana is married with three children.
She is a qualified English Language and physical education teacher. She was a teacher from 1990 until 2007 when she traded her teaching profession to contest the Zvimba South National Assembly seat in March 2008.
In the National Assembly, she represents Mashonaland West through proportional representation, and has been very vocal on education and sport issues.
Several opponents of President Robert Mugabe have in the past disappeared without a trace after they were abducted by suspected CIO agents.