A Zimbabwean cabinet minister claims that three Movement for Democratic Change Alliance activists, who were recently allegedly abducted, tortured and sexually abused by suspected state security agents, have submitted inconsistent statements with indications that the disappearances were stage-managed by “regime change” proponents.
In a statement, Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe said preliminary investigations, conducted by the police and other state security agents, show that Member of Parliament for Harare West Joanna Mamombe, Cecelia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova, had links with people and organizations like the Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who coached them to claim that they were abducted and tortured by unknown assailants.
Kazembe said, “… Needless to say, without at all preempting due process of the law, their three statements show glaring signs of rehearsal and even possible coaching which may not stand up to rigorous cross examination.”
He claimed that the three women’s injuries were not consistent with “the drama” associated with their abduction.
“There is no relationship whatsoever between the findings of the medical examination that was carried out on them by the government medical officer in the presence of two human rights doctors of their choosing on 15 May 2020 and the injuries they claim to have suffered as a result of being subjected to beatings with ‘open palms, booted feet, fists, rifle butts and other blunt objects, including being thrown out of a moving car and being cut up with broken bottles and razor blades on their backs.
“There was no evidence of any swelling, fresh lacerations, wounds or even fractures consistent with the kind of manhandling they claimed to have gone through. This being the case, it is important to advise the public that, in a bid to ascertain if there was any rape or sexual assault, samples were taken and results are pending.”
Kazembe claimed that the maze of lack of clarity between fact and fiction in this case, “we cannot forget that the opposition in Zimbabwe is in the habit of staging fake abductions and disappearances ahead of major international events in order to force Zimbabwe onto those agendas in a negative way.”
Citing previous incidents, which he linked to the current case, he claimed that the MDC Alliance may have stage-managed the abduction of the three to coincide with a Southern African Development Troika Summit in Harare and a meeting with European Union officials over re-engagement efforts being made by Zimbabwe.
“Previous examples which conform to the same familiar script whenever such allegations have been made dates as far back as the inception of the regime change agenda with the formation of the MDC in 1999. There was the drama of Grace Kwinje and an accomplice being bandaged up like mummies and being air lifted to Australia for medical care, only to also appear a few days later all healed and spruced up without scars and mummy bandages.”
“Then there was (Nelson) Chamisa, Gonyeti, Mawarire, Magombeyi and now this present case, to name only a few cases of the same script. The bandages and the medical melodrama are all the hallmark of the Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights.”
Reacting to Kazembe’s statement, the MDC Alliance described his remarks as “an unfortunate and desperate attempt by the authorities to stage a cover-up and save face following the state’s well-documented history of enforced disappearances where the likes of Itai Dzamara, Jestina Mukoko and many other Zimbabweans have been victims of state-sponsored abductions and documented torture.
“This pattern of state abuse has always been followed by hollow denials and grandiose statements, with no action or follow through … It is a matter of regret that the Minister of Home Affairs has elected to play judge, jury and executioner in this grave criminal investigation instead of collecting the evidence and following leads that point to the perpetrators and placing these before and independent court for adjudication. The Minister of Home Affairs has no power at law to pronounce himself on the evidence in respect to the torture and sexual assault suffered by these women.”
The MDC Alliance further noted that instead of constituting a genuine attempt to bring suspects to book, the investigation shifts blame to the three women and undermines the trauma they suffered at the hands of the perpetrators.
“The minister’s statement only serves to revictimize the trio and deepen the allegation of state bias in handling this investigation. We demand an independent investigation into the abduction and torture of Joana, Netsai and Cecilia.”
The three women claim that they were abducted while they were staging a protest in Harare demanding that the government should look for food for power families during the coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown.