‘Government agents are still pursuing us’

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SOME of the people linked to the foiled July 31 mass demonstrations claimed yesterday that they were still being trailed by suspected State security agents despite being recently cleared by the police, the Daily News reports.

However, police said yesterday that they had not received any reports of unlawful surveillance or harassment from the complainants — who include leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz).
This comes as authorities have consistently rejected claims that they are targeting government critics — instead blaming their detractors for allegedly fomenting anarchy in the country and working with foreigners to effect regime change.
It also comes as the ruling Zanu PF has said it is ready and happy to engage with the opposition to end the country’s myriad challenges.
However, and as relative calm appears to take hold in the country following recent political tensions over the thwarted July 31 anti-government demos, ZCTU president Peter Mutasa and his Artuz counterpart Obert Masaraure say they are still being trailed by suspected State agents.
“The government is not softening its stance at all. We had no case to answer in the first place, and the government knows that. It simply wanted to block the July 31 protests by whatever means.
“We are not off the hook and are still being stalked by State agents. They visit our homes in unmarked cars.
“The government has only changed the agents from police to the ferret squad (a shadowy group of suspected State security agents). We are not safe. They want to abduct, harm or kill us,” Mutasa told the Daily News.
On his part, Masaraure said police had cleared them because they should never have been on the list of wanted people in the first place.
He also claimed that State security agents had visited his home last week looking for him.
“It is clear that we were never wanted by the official police force of Zimbabwe. We didn’t commit any crime which could have warranted the law enforcers to arrest us.
National police spokesperson Paul Nyathi
“The shadowy ferret group wanted to cover its back before abducting and torturing us. They would obviously turn us over to the police and force them to prefer charges against us.
“By the way, they did this to me in the past … they are now deploying their shadowy ferret. On 7 September at around 1520hrs, the same team was at my house in a black unmarked Toyota Wish.
“We are being hunted by this criminal outfit,” the outspoken Masaraure told the Daily News.
However, national police spokesperson Paul Nyathi said yesterday that the two unionists were yet to make a report of the alleged harassment by suspected State security agents.
In the run-up to the foiled July 31 mass demos, police put Mutasa and Masaraure among a list of people they wanted to question.
MDC vice national chairperson Job “Wiwa” Sikhala; activist Makomborero Haruzivishe; Godfrey Kurauone; MDC youth secretary general Ostallos Siziba; Tajamuka/Sesijikile leader Promise Mkwananzi; former Harare councillor Denford Ngadziore; Allan Moyo; MDC-Alliance youth leader Obey Sithole; expelled Zanu PF youth leader Godfrey Tsenengamu; another ex-Zanu PF youth leader Jimmy Kunaka; Artuz secretary-general Robson Chere and MDC Alliance youth spokesperson Stephen Chuma were also on the wanted list.
Tsenengamu is yet to emerge from his hide-out despite most of those who had been placed on the list now going about their normal business.
Last month, in what appeared to be a significant change of tack, Tsenengamu and Masaraure appealed to authorities to end the crackdown on critics and hold national dialogue.
“It is very unfortunate that authorities have decided to descend heavily on citizens for speaking out. I thought they would engage with citizens and hear out their concerns. But sadly we are being treated like terrorists.
“I think the authorities must reconsider their position on dissenting voices. That is the only sustainable way to address this.
“In the same way that authorities have re-engaged and engaged with the international community and victims of the Gukurahundi disturbances in order to find common ground, they must also consider engaging with all,” Tsenengamu told the Daily News from his hideout then.
The forthright former Zanu PF bigwig — who now leads the anti-corruption pressure group, the Front for Economic Emancipation (FEE) — had previously warned that the government still faced a major uprising by fed up Zimbabweans despite foiling the July 31 protests.
On July 31, opposition and pro-democracy groups had planned to stage mass demos against the country’s worsening political and economic crises, but were stopped by authorities who deployed hordes of security forces throughout the country.
Rights groups have claimed that dozens of opposition figures and activists have been tortured and assaulted in a retributive exercise by suspected security agents.
The government has refuted the allegations — claiming instead that the opposition is allegedly working with foreigners to destabilise the country.
The country’s deepening crises have since attracted the attention of both South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and the international community.
South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa
Last week, Ramaphosa sent a high-powered delegation of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to Harare, to meet Zanu PF to find ways of assisting local authorities to end the country’s long-running crises.
The two former liberation movements were described as having been very candid and robust with each other in
their heart-to-heart dialogue, which was held at the Zanu PF headquarters in Harare.
Briefing the media, ANC secretary general Ace Magashule said the meeting had progressed well as both parties were “frank with each other”.
“We had very frank, open and robust discussions and we committed ourselves to introspection and renewal of our values.
“We have agreed that as the ANC, we came here to engage with Zanu PF and yes we have agreed that we will come back to meet other stakeholders or whoever you refer to …  so that we understand and comprehend the challenges.
“We have received requests from Transform Zimbabwe political party, the United States ambassador, Simba
Makoni, Zapu and the MDC Alliance … we agreed with Zanu PF that it was important that we meet them .
“So we are going to arrange for our coming back to meet them,” Magashule said.
The meeting came as calls for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to hold national talks with all key local stakeholders have now reached a crescendo — in the wake of Zimbabwe’s deepening political and economic crises.

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