CITIZENS’ Coalition for Change MP Fadzayi Mahere on Wednesday took to task Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, in his capacity as leader of government business in Parliament, over the continued trend of abductions and forced disappearances of citizens following the latest case of pastor Tapfumaneyi Masaya.
Fifty-one year-old Masaya of Pillar of the World Church was abducted on Saturday 11 November 2023 by some unidentified people near a place called Chizhanje in Mabvuku-Tafara constituency while conducting a political campaign to drum up support for Munyaradzi Febion Kufahakutizwi, the opposition CCC’s candidate in the upcoming parliamentary by-elections scheduled for 9 December.
The people who abducted Pastor Masaya were reportedly in a three-vehicle convoy and they bundled him into one of the vehicles which looked like a grey Toyota Fortuner. Mahere said it was concerning that the cases of abduction keep increasing after that of opposition CCC MP Takudzwa Ngadziore.
“Section 219 (1) (c) obliges the police service to secure the lives of Zimbabwean people. Section 48 of the constitution guarantees the right to life and section 53 guarantees that no person may be subjected to physical or psychological torture or cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment. Over the last four (4) weeks, we have seen an escalation in abductions, enforced disappearances. We have seen an escalation in abductions, enforced disappearances and unexplained murders. What is the government policy on ensuring that the police investigate?” Mahere queried in Parliament.
“What is government policy on ensuring that these murders, abductions and enforced disappearances are impartially investigated by our police service in line with the constitutional obligation under section 219?”
In his response, Ziyambi said Zimbabwe does not tolerate people who murder each other.
“We have a policy that informs what the laws must be and we have a constitution that clearly indicates that we must protect the right to life. We have a constitution that prohibits enforced disappearances. So, the policy of government is already there.,” said Ziyambi.
“What is needed is, if there is anyone with information that may lead to the arrest of these individuals that they are alleging ‘abducted’ or did whatever they did, they must provide the investigating officers with that information so that they can investigate fully and ensure that they are prosecuted. The policy position of government is that we are a peaceful nation. We do not want anyone to be harassed.”
Mahere, however, said she was surprised by the response of the leader of government business in light of the fact that the permanent secretary for Information, Nick Mangwana, just this week, justified the violent wielding of an AK47 by a person who has not been investigated by the police.
“In each of the abductions that have taken place over the last four weeks, we have just seen empty statements from the police service, no investigation, arrests, prosecution and efforts by the state to ensure that those who are responsible are brought to book. In fact, what we have seen in the past from the state is that the victims of these abductions and enforced disappearances are the ones that they get.”
“My question is: What is the policy to ensure that the police carry out the constitutional obligations? So far, we have seen the government letting the police get away with making statements that are not followed up by any investigations, arrests or prosecutions?” she asked.
In response, Ziyambi said if there is concrete information that the police are not taking action, then the Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe is available for Mahere to bring that information and “we will deal with the police command why they are not doing that. “
“I have indicated that as a government, we want this nation to be peaceful. We do not want lawlessness; we do not have a policy at all of murdering each other. If there is anything, it is contrary to our beliefs as government and as a party,” said Ziyambi.
“If she (Mahere) has information about the non-investigation of that particular issue, I am sure from what she is saying, she has a lot of information and the minister will be glad to listen to that and be able to summon the commanders of the police why they are not taking that information and acting upon it, to ensure that those allegations are investigated and improved. The courts are there and the people will be taken to court,” said Ziyambi.
Zimbabwe has a long history of forced disappearances and deaths of opposition political activists dating back to the 1980s. The opposition has often accused the ruling Zanu PF of torture and death of its activists.
Some of the opposition activists abducted include MP Joana Mamombe and councillor Cecilia Chimbiri. On 9 March 2015, Itai Dzamara, an activist and journalist, was abducted by five men while at a barber shop in Harare.
He has not been seen since. On 24 May 2022, Moreblessing Ali was out with her friend in Beatrice when she was abducted by an unidentified man following an argument. Her mutilated body was found three weeks later on 11 June 2022.