OPPOSITION Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) parliamentarians have taken government to task over police’s seemingly lackadaisical approach towards investigating politically-motivated abductions, enforced disappearances and murder of their party members.
The legislators grilled Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi on Wednesday in Parliament after CCC activist Tapfumaneyi Masaya was found dead following his abduction by unknown persons in Mabvuku, Harare, over the weekend.
Masaya was snatched while campaigning for the party’s parliamentary candidate Munyaradzi Febion Kufahakutizwi who will be contesting in the December 9 by-elections.
A fortnight ago, CCC legislator Takudzwa Ngadziore recorded a short video of gun-toting men closing in on him before he was abducted from the capital, tortured and injected with an unknown substance.
He was later dumped in Mazowe, north of Harare.
Last month, former Mabvuku-Tafara legislator James Chidhakwa was also abducted, tortured, injected with an unknown substance before being dumped in Arcturus, east of the capital.
The abductors shaved off his dreadlocks.
There have been several cases of attempted abduction of opposition members before and after the disputed August 23 and 24 elections.
Mt Pleasant legislator Fadzayi Mahere (CCC) questioned why there have not been any arrests in cases of enforced disappearances and murder of opposition activists.
“Over the last few weeks, we have seen an escalation in abductions, enforced disappearances and unexplained murders. What is government policy on ensuring that the police investigate?” Mahere asked in Parliament.
Mahere cited section 219(1)(c) of the Constitution which “obliges the Police Service to secure the lives of Zimbabwean people”.
“Section 48 of the Constitution guarantees the right to life and section 53 guarantees that no person may be subjected to physical or psychological torture or cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment,” Mahere said.
Harare East legislator Rusty Markham (CCC) said police had shown bias in attending to reported cases, ignoring those involving the abduction of opposition members.
“When you ask for information, we have the registration of the vehicle used and the names of the people who did it but no one will take the report,” Markham said.
In response, Ziyambi, however, challenged opposition legislators to provide evidence.
“If there is anything, it is contrary to our beliefs as government and as a party. If she (Mahere) has information about the non-investigation of that particular issue, I am sure from what she is saying, she has a lot of information and the (Home Affairs) Minister (Kazembe Kazembe) will be glad to listen to that and be able to summon the commanders of the police why they are not taking that information and acting upon it, to ensure that those allegations are investigated,” Ziyambi said.
Journalist and human rights defender Itai Dzamara was abducted from a barbershop close to his Glen View home in Harare in 2015 and has never been seen again.
To date, police insist investigations are still being carried out.
Enforced disappearances and abductions have become an established pattern against government critics in Zimbabwe, prompting concerned citizens and organisations to call on government to ratify the United Nations International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, an international human rights instrument intended to prevent enforced disappearance, which, as defined in international law, is part of crimes against humanity.
On Wednesday, CCC leader Nelson Chamisa pleaded with President Emmerson Mnangagwa to cancel the upcoming by-elections to save lives following attacks on his followers.
Yesterday, the Election Resources Centre joined several other human rights groups, the European Union as well as the United States embassy in calling for investigations and arrest of persons behind the abductions.
“Politically-motivated violence has serious consequences for the victims (and) also negatively affects free, fair and credible elections and Zimbabwe’s democratic trajectory,” ERC said in its statement.
“With evidence that the murder is linked to political participation, the Electoral Act clearly sets out prohibited conduct that could potentially invalidate an election or result in the disqualification of candidates, with politically motivated violence, being one.”