via Bullet, text threats set to persist, Mukoko – New Zimbabwe 11/10/2015
TOP rights defender Jestina Mukoko has warned of a new form of violence now being used on vocal citizens by suspected state agents who are in the habit of sending live bullets and death threatening phone messages to targeted individuals.
However, Home Affairs deputy minister Obedingwa Mguni was quick to shoot down the assertion which he said was generated through false claims by victims.
Mukoko, director with the Zimbabwe Peace Project, an NGO which documents politically motivated violations, said death threats were more traumatic than physical violations of individuals.
“I think this one is even worse because you don’t know when the physical is going to hit you,” Mukoko said in an interview with NewZimbabwe.com weekend.
“So, the trauma goes on for a longer period. You do not know when the actual thing is going to descend on you.
“You are like someone on the death row where if you hear your gate being opened every time, you are not sure if the day has arrived or not.”
Outspoken Tafara-Mabvuku MP James Maridadi last week got the scare of his life when some unknown assailants placed a live bullet at his home doorstep in an apparent attempt to silence him.
As if not enough, the MDC-T legislator and his wife were both subjected to strange phone calls which were warning him to tone down his critical parliamentary debates which have often centred on high level corruption and rights abuses.
That was not too long after a group of party legislators and their families also received similar death threats via their mobiles warning them against heckling President Mugabe who was due to preside over the opening of parliament last month.
While this would ordinarily have been an opposition nightmare in the past, Zanu PF politicians have, since the party’s bitter factional factions turned nasty, received similar deaths.
Mashonaland Central governor Martin Dinha July this year received a bullet parcel, accompanied by a threatening letter which ordered him to surrender his job, while cabinet ministers Jonathan Moyo and Saviour Kasukuwere, both key figures in Zanu PF’s succession squabbles, have had almost similar experiences.
There were no arrests in all the incidences.
Mukoko said the trend could continue right into the 2018 elections adding there was need among civic groups to raise awareness among citizens on the new forms of violence.
“I think we have been seeing this modus operandi since the 2013 elections where we did not see a lot of overt forms of violence that we were used to,” said Mukoko.
“We saw these subtle forms of violence where images of the 2008 violence were used to threaten people.
“The victims don’t see them as a violation of their rights having been used to horrendous acts of cutting limbs.”
Reached for comment, Home Affairs deputy minister Mguni played down the new violence trend saying the incidents were, in the least, fabricated by some of the victims while they were too isolated to warrant some panic.
“Police deal with what is tangible; what you are saying to me is hearsay,” Mguni told NewZimbabwe.com.
“James Maridadi was in Parliament saying that he has reported the matter to the police; so if he has reported we will investigate the matter but I dispute that it is increasing; that is actually falsifying what is happening in Zimbabwe. I don’t like that.”
Asked if government was well equipped to deal with this emerging form of violence on citizens, Mguni responded: “There is no government that is not well equipped to deal with that; obviously we have got units prepared to deal with that.”