EPHRAIM Muvungani will never forget last year Christmas. While most were merrymaking with loved ones, he was writhing in pain, nursing wounds inflicted by suspected Zanu PF youths in the dormitory town of Chitungwiza.
Muvungani, a former Zanu PF youth activist, now Chitungwiza Zone coordinator for former vice-president Joice Mujuru’s movement, People First (PF), is among the first people to pay the price for defecting to the new political outfit.
Muvungani, together with Remedy Mukoseri, Lisbon Matema, Elizabeth and Christabell Bobo and Simibisai Chironga, were attacked in broad daylight.
As the six colleagues chatted away at Zengeza 2 old bus terminus near the post office, six cars came to a screeching halt and several Zanu PF youths disembarked and surrounded them.
The youths accused them of holding a PF meeting and started beating them up with planks, barbed wire and steel rods.
Muvungani said they were later bundled into the cars at around 2pm and taken initially to Zengeza 4 publicity house and then to Makoni near the old Vehicle Inspectorate Department (VID) complex before being taken to alleged “central intelligence offices also near Makoni”. Analysts say the entrance of Mujuru, President Robert Mugabe’s former deputy between 2004 and 2014, will not only change opposition politics once dominated by former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party (MDC-T) but could see the escalation of politically-motivated violence.
Mujuru and former Zanu PF politburo members — secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa and spokesperson Rugare Gumbo — are among several leading party and government officials who were kicked out of Zanu PF ahead of and after the party’s watershed December 2014 congress on untested allegations of plotting Mugabe’s ouster and assassination.
A fortnight ago pictures of Mujuru having meetings to drum up support went viral on social media after she went into hibernation soon after losing the country’s second most powerful post. Critics say allegations of Zanu PF fomenting violence on PF could be a clear sign that the ruling party could be in panic mode.
While Mujuru is yet to launch her party ahead of the 2018 elections, her supporters are now targets of politically-motivated violence.
“On December 23 in the afternoon we were parked with my friends at Zengeza 2 Old terminus next to PTC (Post and Telecommunications Corporation). While we were there all of a sudden six cars that included a Mercedes Benz C180, Toyota Prado and Toyota Hilux Surf, with people wearing Zanu PF regalia surrounded us and accused us of having a People First meeting,” said Muvungani.
“I could identify the people because they are people we used to work with in Zanu PF, in particular Zanu PF Harare Province. Most of the guys are provincial members. They started accusing us of joining People First and disclosing party secrets to PF. To which we denied but they did not entertain that and forced us into different cars.”
“I was beaten the most, I could see one of the ladies being dragged on the floor while being beaten all over. The women were really traumatised. After they beat us up forcing us to confess that we have joined People First, they forced us to speak while recording us with their phone cameras, saying we confess and they were shouting at us that we are now turning against the President,” he said.
“It was after a phone call that the beatings temporarily stopped and we were quickly put in the cars and we were taken to Makoni where the old VID is. They were other cars parked there and on arrival the cars made a horn shape and we were made to sit in the middle and a senior Zanu PF central committee member addressed us (name supplied) saying we want to turn against Mugabe and that what had been done to us was nothing and threatened more violence.” Muvungani said one of their abductors suggested that the six be taken to a police station but instead they were taken to alleged state security offices.
“We were taken to the CIO office at Makoni popularly known as the black gate and there they told them to write their names and submit a report of why they had taken us there,” he said.
“My understanding is that our case was that we were supporting Mujuru and they claimed that they wanted us to confess so that we surrender our positions in Zanu PF. But none of us held any positions in Zanu PF,” he said.
“Some two men who attended to us asked us whether we held any positions in Zanu PF and we were confused as to why we were being held there. We were released at around 8pm and we went home.”
Muvungani said he reported the case at St Mary’s police station under RRB 2685376 but, there has not been any progress on the case.
According to a medical report done at a private hospital, Muvungani sustained bruises on the back, chest, knee and feet and eye. Harare province People First representative Farai Kuveya described the incident as a sad development, saying: “It is disheartening to see that Zanu PF does not walk the talk in as far as maintaining a peaceful environment. The fact that the abduction and assaults were carried out by known Zanu PF functionaries, who are executive members at provincial level, leaves one wondering where we are going as a nation.”
Contacted for comment, Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said: “They know where to report. Did they report to the police? So let the police do their work. We don’t interfere with police investigations.”
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum in a statement last week said it was concerned by the escalation of human rights violations between December 2015 and January 2016.
“The victims sustained extensive injuries that required medical attention. Section 58 on Freedom of Association and Assembly and Section 67 on political rights guarantee the rights to political participation and the freedom to join and belong to a particular political party,” said the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO.
“The case was reported at Chitungwiza Police Station but was not actively investigated. The State is reminded of its obligation to protect the right to life and personal security in accordance with sections 48 and 52 of the constitution.”