‘Govt condones abductions, torture’
The criminalisation of abduction claims without evidence of conclusive investigations gives credence to claims that the government is involved, and wants to cover up, analysts have said.
Masvingo MDC Alliance activist John Mupanduki was recently charged with communicating “statements prejudicial to the state” after he revealed his alleged abduction.
Mupanduki of Bikita West was allegedly abducted by unknown assailants around 0300hours from his home at Nyika Growth point on January 7.
According to the MDC Alliance, Mupanduki’s abductors were driving an unmarked car. He was allegedly dumped in Mashava the following day “badly tortured and disoriented”, the opposition party said.
Following his arrest and arraignment in court analysts said the charges against Mupanduki were not “shocking”, but meant to silence critics.
Political analyst Vivid Gwede said the government was resorting to criminalising claims of abductions in a bid to frustrate as well as silence critics over the country’s human rights violations.
“This is becoming the modus operandi that instead of investigating these extra-judicial activities the tendency is to criminalise reports of such human rights violations. Hence, questions are genuinely raised about the government’s role in protecting constitutional rights,” Gwede told The Standard.
Another analyst Kudakwashe Munemo said the state had a duty to investigate reports of abductions before accusing the victims of lying.
“Whenever a premature conclusion is reached, in this case, without an investigation having been carried out, it becomes clear that the government itself has a hand and is throwing mud to cover up and in the process gagging those that would want to speak out regarding abductions,” Munemo said.
“It is the duty of the state to investigate all cases involving abduction of its citizens and not further victimise those who come forward with such reports.”
In 2020, police pressed a cocktail of criminal charges including faking abduction and disappearance against MDC Alliance activists Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova.
The MDC activists had made police reports that state agents abducted them from police custody, beat and sexually assaulted them and forced them to drink each other’s urine.
“In Zimbabwe we have moved from the likes of Public Order and Security Act (POSA) which was repealed and replaced by (Maintenance of Peace Order Act (MOPA). We have criminal codification laws that target opponents, especially the political leadership in which citizens and human rights defenders are arrested for insulting the president.
“Now we have the extension of insult laws to include online activities of individuals. What we are seeing is the very plan of individuals and politically motivated attacks on the rights of people to fully express themselves online.”Standard.