ED slams MDC demonstrations

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Sindiso Mhlophe

SENIOR STAFF WRITER

mhlophes@dailynews.co.zw

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday launched a thinly-veiled attack on the MDC — warning the country’s main opposition party against staging protests aimed at attracting international attention, the Daily News reports.

This comes as political tensions are rising in the country over claims that three MDC youth leaders, who led a flash demonstration in Harare last week, were abducted, tortured and sexually abused by suspected security agents.

At the same time, churches and rights groups have demanded a thorough probe into the abduction and torture allegations that have been made by the three MDC youth leaders — Harare West MP Joanna Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova.

Speaking at the burial of the late Zanu PF politburo member Absolom Sikhosana at the National Heroes Acre yesterday, Mnangagwa lashed out at the MDC for engaging in “reckless demonstrations for political grandstanding”.

“As I conclude, I wish once more to draw the attention of the nation to the invisible enemy that has visited us in the form of the coronavirus, also known as Covid-19.

“It is a real threat to us all and no one is safe or immune from it. Let us keep adhering to the World Health Organisation guidelines for preventing its spread.

“I want to end my remarks by reminding us to remain united and to keep the peace that we enjoy.

“We must never endanger the lives of our people through illegal, reckless and unwarranted demonstrations for political grandstanding,” Mnangagwa said.

This comes after the three MDC youth leaders led a flash demonstration in Harare’s high density suburb of Warren Park last week, before alleging that they had subsequently been seized from the hands of police by unknown men — who went on to abuse and torture them.

The claims have drawn wide local and international condemnation, with the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) among the organisations that have called for a thorough independent inquiry into the allegations.

“It should be stated that the reports suggesting … Mamombe … Chimbiri and … Marova, were taken from police custody … tortured, sexually assaulted and inhumanly treated by yet to be known agents, point to something that is against the heart of the Constitution of Zimbabwe … various international conventions to which Zimbabwe is a signatory and, above all, to our cultural norms and our Christian fundamental beliefs regarding the sanctity and dignity of life.

“In light of the above, the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations calls for the institution of an urgent independent investigation into the circumstances around … the abduction and torture of … Mamombe … Chimbiri and … Marova.

“The findings should be made public, with appropriate and swift disciplinary action to be instituted against the perpetrators,” the clerics said.

The MDC youth leaders participated in a flash demonstration in Warren Park last week, before they were reported missing.

On Friday, the trio — which appeared to be in shock and pain — told the media how they had ended up in the hands of suspected State security operatives, who allegedly went on to assault them with guns and sticks during a “horrendous interrogation”.

“They (the alleged abductors) were telling us to sing a song, saying that we are going to stop leading demonstrations. Whenever we stopped they would beat us under the feet and on our legs.

“We were put in shallow holes in the middle of nowhere. They gave me the nickname Dolly Parton as they took turns sucking my breasts.

“They forced us to drink our urine and then stripped me,” Chimbiri said of her ordeal in between sobs.

“I thought they were going to rape me. They then shoved a gun into my private parts,” she added.

On its part, the government has promised to launch a through probe into the alleged abductions, with Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe directing police boss Godwin Matanga to institute a full-scale investigation.

All this also comes as Mnangagwa and his government have come under growing pressure to introduce broad political and economic reforms, as part of efforts to do things differently from the previous regime of the late former president Robert Mugabe.

It also comes as the government has also been accused of abducting its critics and torturing dozens of opposition officials to silence growing dissent in the country, sparked by a worsening economic situation.

Rights groups have claimed that more than 100 people have been abducted by suspected security agents since last year’s January riots, which were sparked by fuel price increases.

 

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