Zimbabwe: Scourge of Stage-Managed Abductions

17 September 2019
opinion

In the middle of the busy national schedule of the body viewing and funeral service for former President Robert Mugabe over the weekend, word filtered over social media that Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors' Association (ZHDA) leader Dr Peter Magombeyi had been allegedly abducted by three masked men on Saturday.

The social media speculation mill went into overdrive and overtime with Government's detractors, especially in the opposition compound, readily claiming that the dastardly act was the handiwork of State security agents ostensibly given the ongoing impasse over salary increments pitting Government and the ZHDA.

Abduction scare

Excitable people in the opposition such as the MDC leader, Nelson Chamisa's tactless spokesperson, Nkululeko Sibanda, was among the first to accuse Government of abducting the doctors' leader when he posted that "the abduction of Dr Peter will be another really bad move by this self-chewing illegitimate regime that is afraid of anything that moves".

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), which is contending with alarmingly dwindling membership and increasing irrelevance, also joined in claiming without any shred of proof that the "State is involved. We, the victims, are clear that this has all the hallmarks of the State".

All that is known about Magombeyi's fate are claims that he texted friends to the effect that he had been abducted by three masked men, something which some Zimbabweans have been questioning and rightly so, too. Their contention is how a person in the circumstances and process of being abducted is allowed by his alleged captors to tweet freely.

While abductions are condemnable, what is interesting about the whole Magombeyi matter is past experience with opposition and other anti-Government elements who have made it their habit to stage "abductions" of themselves to tarnish Government's image and, in some very shameful cases, to cover up for some personal misdemeanours.

One such person is the MDC vice chairperson Job Sikhala, who claimed in August last year that he had been abducted by unknown armed men only for the world to learn that the claim had been made to cover up for his absence from home to entertain a mistress. He had taken advantage of the August 1 2018 incident to buttress his case and wring some political mud from the event to besmirch President Mnangagwa and Government.

Opposition politician Linda Masarira in January 2017 falsely claimed that her then live-in lover and MDC activist Makomborero Haruzivishe had been abducted by six unknown men who were suspected to be State security agents. It later turned out that Haruzivishe was at his parents' home.

What is worrying is how all these cases are amplified on the social media by Government haters, but no shred of evidence being given to support the claims.

In March 2015, an anti-Mugabe activist, Itai Dzamara, was allegedly abducted from his Glen View neighbourhood in Harare and to this day more than four years later all that people say about the matter is that the State is responsible, but they have failed to bring forth cogent and irrefutable evidence.

Government can only be pronounced as guilty by a competent court of law not by biased public opinion.

Serious matter

These stories bring to the fore how readily opposition members use allegations of abductions to drive their own illegal enterprise of pushing ZANU-PF out of power. Abductions are a serious and emotive matter as they involve trauma, pain and stress. This is the reason why upon hearing of the Magombeyi issue, Government through the Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Obadiah Moyo, issued a statement expressing alarm at the news and "engaged the State security agencies who have undertaken to deploy resources to look for Dr Magombeyi".

Beckoning global events

It is now clear that the opposition and other anti-Government elements have now added fake abduction cases of their own members or non-members to their ammunition list of violent demonstrations and fake news.

Government, through the Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Nick Mangwana swiftly rebutted the mischievous claims of the State abducting its own citizens.

"This administration has no reason to destabilise this country by abducting its citizens. Threats to the security of persons and acts of terror are ultimately threats to the security of the State. There is neither rhyme nor reason for the State to undermine itself," Mangwana tweeted.

Given the opposition and its civil society organisations (CSO) counterparts' past record of seeking to embarrass Government and tarnish its image, one cannot put it past them to have taken advantage of the ongoing salary increment disagreement between Government and the ZHDA to arrange for the abduction of Dr Magombeyi in order to tarnish the former's human rights record in view of the heads of states and former heads of states who thronged Harare to condole President Mnangagwa and Zimbabweans on the passing away of former President Mugabe.

It should also be noted that United Nations Special Rapporteur Clément Nyaletsossi Voule is set to visit Zimbabwe from September 17 to 27 2019 to assess the country's achievements and challenges in relation to the exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the country.

President Mnangagwa is set to travel to New York later this month for the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

It is in view of these forthcoming global events that the opposition, CSOs and their Western handlers have resorted to the discredited, embarrassing and shameful fake abductions to tarnish his record as part of the opposition's default response to its perennial electoral losses -- "Tongai tione" (sabotaging ZANU-PF).

The timing of the alleged Magombeyi abduction was meant to exact maximum embarrassment of the President during one of his finest moments on the world stage.

The good news in all this is that despite the anti-Government elements' inhuman and self-embarrassing stunts, President Mnangagwa and Government continue to discharge the mandate which was bestowed on them by the Zimbabwean electorate on July 30 2018 to improve the people's lives. The opposition's efforts will continue to be as futile as slamming shut a revolving door.

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