Resurging abductions worry human rights defenders

Tafadzwa Muranganwa

Harare—A Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) activist, Tapfumaneyi Masaya, who was recently abducted as he campaigned for his party’s parliamentary candidate ahead of the 9 December by-elections is believed to have been assassinated by unknown hit men and his body was reportedly identified in a mortuary at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare, the capital.

Masaya was abducted last Saturday.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa proclaimed 9 December as the date for the by-elections in more than a dozen constituencies following the recall of winning CCC legislators by a party insider and rival, Sengezo Tshabangu, recently.

The spokespersons for CCC, Promise Mkwananzi and Gift Siziba, publicly claimed that Masaya’s body was positively identified by party members who had been looking for him following his recent abduction by unknown men in the Mabvuku-Tafara to the east of Harare where a by-election is due.

Another CCC activist, Kalosi Jeffrey from the same area, was also abducted and later found at the nearby Chabwino Farm.

The two incidents follow hard on the heels of an equal number of abductions in recent weeks.

Tafadzwa Ngadziore (25), the youngest CCC member of parliament following the August elections, was forcefully taken away by armed men, tortured and dumped 50km away in Mazowe district, Mashonaland Central province.

The ruling Zanu PF government claimed that he staged the abduction, despite a live Facebook video by Ngadziore depicting the violent capture.

One of his abductors was identified as a serving member of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

Prior to that, another CCC legislator, James Chidhakwa, was also abducted, tortured and dumped outside the capital.

Speaking to NewsHub, the CCC secretary for welfare, Vongai Tome, confirmed the abduction of Jeffrey and Masaya.

“The two were abducted on Saturday during a campaign launch,” she said, adding that they had dispatched a search team to look for Masaya before he was discovered in the mortuary.

The CCC had lodged a report with the Mabvuku police on reports received book (RRB) number 5763049.

However, Harare Police spokesman, Luckmore Chikanza, said he was not yet aware of the report.

The police, though, confirmed the discovery of a dead body near where Masaya is said to have been dumped, even though it said the identity of the victim was yet to be established.

Wilbert Mandinde, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum acting director, urged the government to speedily investigate the abductions.

He expressed worry at the tendency by the ruling party and government to dismiss the abductions as fake.

“As the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, we condemn in no uncertain terms the continuation of abductions as we see them at the moment. We are concerned that government has always said these are stage-managed,” Mandinde told this publication.

He added that the allegation of staged abductions was proved wrong in the fact that some the victims were later acquitted on the charge of faking disappearances.

Mandinde also urged the police to act professionally, following numerous reports during the 2023 election time whereby they failed to act on reports of violence against opposition supporters or ended up arresting the victims.

“From what we gathered from Honourable Tome (a senator) there are pictures of the alleged CIO guys who were behind the abductions. The police should not continue to say they are waiting for a report when evidence is awash on social media. Police should be professional at all times,” added Mandinde.

The CCC recorded scores of abductions before, during and after the 2023 elections, despite the fact that respective election observer missions described the polls as peaceful.

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