10 January 2009

Zimbabwe: Revived PF Zapu Officials Allege Abductions of Members

PF Zapu, which recently pulled out of a unity accord with Zanu PF, says ruling party militias have launched a retribution war targeting its supporters after three officials were reportedly abducted in Mashonaland West.

The abductions came hard on the heels of President Robert Mugabe's declaration of Dumiso Dabengwa's group as dissidents who "should be castigated and dismissed with the contempt they deserve". Dabengwa leads the revived PF Zapu.

"On Tuesday three of our off-icials involved in the mobilisation of supporters in Karoi were kid-napped by Zanu PF militia and held for three days at bases around the area," said Smile Dube, the PF Zapu interim spokesperson.

"According to the reports that we have received so far the officials were not harmed but they were traumatised by the ordeal.

"It is clear that Zanu PF bases that were set up in the run up to the June 27 presidential run-off election are still intact and the party's leaders are failing to control their supporters."

The three are Gilbert Chikabva, Charles Moyo and Rose Chikede.

The revival of Zapu, which officially severed ties with Zanu PF last month, has ruffled feathers in the ruling party and sparked an angry reaction from Mugabe. Dube said they were concerned that the backlash in Mashonaland West, a PF Zapu stronghold before the unity accord, could be a precursor to worse things to come.

"We are worried because at the burial of Retired Major Gordon Sibanda last month, President Mugabe called us dissidents, which invokes memories of the Gukurahundi massacres," Dube said. "We are afraid that this could have sent a wrong signal to his supporters."

Dube said the party, which held a convention last month to officially mark the revival had recorded a number of incidents of intimidation against its sup-porters throughout the country.

"The vice-chairman, (Canci-well) Nziramasanga, has gone to Karoi to try and establish what really happened after we got little assistance from the police," he said. "We hope to establish in the next few days the purpose of these abductions and what was done to our officials during their illegal detention. He said relatives of the abductees had confirmed that they had returned home. Police spokesman, Wayne Bvudzijena was not immediately available for comment.

The government recently admitted that state security agents were behind the abduction of several of its opponents it accuses of recruiting people to undergo military training in Botswana.

Meanwhile, Dube said PF Zapu was pressing ahead with its plans to hold the party's first congress in 22 years to elect new leaders in the next three months. Dabengwa, a former Home Affairs Minister is the interim chairman.

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