Abductions: We’re sliding back into dark days

THE abduction of opposition party members by state security agents in the aftermath of recent general elections represents a return to the dark period when kidnappings and beatings were commonplace, and clearly indicates the country is regressing.

Candid Comment,Faith Zaba
fzaba@zimind.co.zw

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been preaching peace and inclusivity, adding that his government represents a new dispensation since being inaugurated in November last year on the back of a military coup. All the gains made in the last eight months now seem to be coming to nought.

Zimbabwe held elections, which, before the fatal shooting by soldiers of six unarmed civilians and injuries sustained by more than a dozen people during protests last Wednesday, were hailed as peaceful, raising high hopes and expectations of being endorsed by most of the observer missions.

Alas, this is all crumbling like a deck of cards. The mirage of the new dispensation, under the mantra “Zimbabwe is Open for Business”, which had gained traction is now up in smoke.

That the abductions, being reported in Harare, of MDC Alliance supporters and ordinary Zimbabweans after the indiscriminate shooting by soldiers, has dissipated any goodwill the country had begun to enjoy as a result of its re-engagement exercise is clear.

The tweet by Stephen Chan, who works closely with the British government, aptly demonstrates this:
“Not sure how they can be so completely over-the-top clumsy and bad,” Chan tweeted. “Zanu PF must have been smugly congratulating themselves for ‘managing’ the election and projecting a new image — and then, in one fell swoop, killing protesters in front of world observers. Same old Zanu PF.”

The current abductions are a visceral reminder of the dark years — the 1980s — just after the country had gained Independence, when Zanu PF spearheaded the abduction of Zapu supporters after the 1985 elections, as well as the abduction and killings of opposition party members after the elections in 2000, 2002 and 2008.

Human rights groups reported dozens of abductions and beatings carried out by unidentified men overnight in Zimbabwe’s centre and north-eastern areas.

According to media reports, the wave of repression began last week after the protests, with the army supposedly moving through neighbourhoods in Harare and satellite towns targeting supporters and MDC Alliance officials.

However, the police and military have denied this saying the army personnel were rogue soldiers that should be reported to the police.

The homes of at least two senior MDC leaders, both parliamentarians, have been surrounded by armed groups during the night, and relatives harassed.

Mnangagwa needs to start walking the talk.

In a tweet today, Mnangagwa said: “All Zimbabweans must join us now in striving for unity, peace and reconciliation. Peace is paramount.”

To do this, he has to rein in the so-called rogue soldiers and security agents; otherwise the country will slide into the abyss.