IN this edition today, we report that Impala Car Rental, a local company in Harare with a big footprint across the tourism and hospitality industry, is linked to the state security agency, Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).
Ordinarily, Impala should be able to freely do business with whomever it wants to and should not be bothered by needless public comments, especially on social media, that much since it’s not a state enterprise or public entity beyond its business networks and interactions.
Of course, it does business with the public and must listen to its customers to offer a good service and get a healthy return on investment.
However, this is a very unusual case we are dealing with.
It’s a case of company which has links with the state security service, the CIO, hence now finds itself entangled in political and human rights issues engulfing those who own and control it.
This has made Impala a subject of keen interest among the public. More so after a car that was hired from it was used by state security agents to abduct and brutally torture a student journalist, Tawanda Muchehiwa, who is clearly harmless just like the other journalists being hounded. Journalism is not a crime.
Well, Tawanda is also an activist, which is not a crime, but certainly not the kind of young man who would plant bombs and explode public infrastructure and buildings as alleged by MDC Bulawayo women’s league leader Tendai Masotsha who has now been forced out despite being cleared of suspicions she framed Tawanda and put him in a trap.
Although she has denied these charges, she has not been able to convincingly explain why she did what she did — calling and meeting Muchehiwa and his relatives, Advent and Mandlenkosi, at that area where the abduction took place and later telling them they should not reveal what had happened when Muchehiwa was abducted.
That is very dodgy and criminal. In fact, it is scandalous. The MDC Alliance should not have let her off the hook. But then, she is now at it again, claiming Tawanda wanted to bomb buildings. Why didn’t she report him to police when she realised he had an anarchist and arsonist agenda?
The problem here is Masotsha has been caught with her paints down and she is trying to kick dust, brew a storm and then disappear in the midst of the confusion.
The issue is not really about Masotsha, but the growing political culture under President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime of violence, brutality and impunity. Zimbabweans needs to stand against the government to pressure it to stop brutal repression and impunity.
Authorities must know there is a political cost to allowing state security agents to abduct, torture and brutalise people.
In recent months, Nigerian leaders learnt it the hard way when their people showed that they were outraged by the systemic human rights violations perpetrated by special police with impunity. Nigerians rose against their government over horrific crimes which were being committed by the country’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars).
Their protests shook government and drew the international community’s attention.
Like the global BlackLivesMatter and later the ZimbabweansLivesMatter movements, the Nigerian protests were about human rights abuses and impunity.
Yet Nigerian authorities have failed to prosecute a single officer from the notorious Sars despite anti-torture legislation passed in 2017 and evidence that its members continue to use torture and other ill-treatment to execute, punish and extract information from suspects.
Zimbabwe still allows and uses torture as part of investigations and the judiciary has not taken a bold stance to consistently condemn that.
People must say no to this and bring brutality, torture and impunity to an end.
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