In a sensational outburst, former Vice President and now Zimbabwe People First leader, Joice Mujuru, says President Robert Mugabe must explain a myriad of abductions and disappearances of citizens critical of his rule since the nonagenarian assumed power in April 1980.
This comes as Mugabe has in recent weeks been threatening to crack down savagely on his political foes and other critics, including using primitive and extra-judicial suppression methods that his ruling Zanu PF incorporated during the liberation struggle in the 1970s — such as incarcerating dissenters in inhuman underground dungeons where they were forced to live like caged rats.
In a statement yesterday responding to Mugabe’s ominous Wednesday threats against pro-democracy activists and war veterans who have served divorce papers on him, Mujuru demanded that the long-ruling strongman tells the nation the whereabouts of several Zimbabweans who have gone missing after being abducted by suspected State security agents.
“We are shocked as Zimbabwe People First by Mugabe’s rants. It is quite alarming that, of late, he has been using the spectre of macabre and grossly horrifying human rights abuses perpetrated by him, his government and his merchants of violence to ward off political opposition to his rule,” Mujuru said through spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire.
ZPF also said Zimbabweans had every reason to be worried by Mugabe’s threats given that the increasingly-isolated and frail nonagenarian had unfettered control over the State’s coercive levers of power.
“We believe that Mugabe’s threats are not hollow, or just the rants of an old, tired and desperate leader. We are fully aware that there are citizens who have disappeared and up to now there is no trace of where they are being held, if they are still alive.
“Names that quickly come to mind are Rashiwe Guzha and Itai Dzamara because these were widely publicised … there are many who did not get the publicity that the two got, but are still missing, and their families are living with the pain of their inexplicable disappearance every day,” the party said.
What worried many citizens the most, Mujuru added, was that Mugabe’s threats were directed at his critics who were raising their concerns well within the provisions of the country’s Constitution, which was the supreme law of the land.
Following Mugabe’s stunning fallout with war veterans who are rallying behind embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to take over from the nonagenarian — which saw the former freedom fighters issuing a scathing communiqué — the leaders of the restless ex-combatants, Victor Matemadanda and Douglas Mahiya, were promptly nabbed and incarcerated.
Mahiya has already appeared in court, facing allegations of insulting Mugabe, while Matemadanda is yet to be charged.
Last month, Mugabe also responded to the growing dissent among war veterans by threatening to unleash on them an orgy of violence akin to the brutal massacre of an estimated 20 000 innocent civilians by the military during the Gukurahundi era in the early 1980s, mainly in Matabeleland and the Midlands.
Soon after this, Mugabe also threatened popular #ThisFlag campaigner, Pastor Evan Mawarire, and other clergymen who had criticised his increasingly autocratic rule.
As a result, Mawarire has since fled to South Africa, while other critics have gone underground in fear of official reprisals.
“After Mugabe’s boastful revelation at his party’s headquarters on the 27th of July, the temptation that we now have is to believe that Mugabe’s revelation that he used to throw political opponents in some underground dungeons during the war also explains the disappearances that we witness today.
“What can stop him now if he used to do that to his fellow comrades? We are afraid that if he could do that to his comrades, what of opposition political figures?” ZPF said in its statement yesterday.
It also challenged Mugabe “to realise that he is in his position not because of the mighty of the army, police or any other security section that he wants to unleash on the people”, but was president, even though this title was contestable, “because of the vote by the people he now threatens with underground dungeons and other inhuman and dastard pogroms”.
“We therefore call on Mugabe to desist from his thuggish behaviour, cease to intimidate political opponents and as a leader promote the enjoyment of civic and political rights by citizens as espoused by the new Constitution that he signed into effect, without fear of any retribution from Zanu PF, government or any such organ that he heads,” it said.
ZPF also emphasised that no citizen should be arrested for telling Mugabe to leave office or crticising him “whether that person is a war veteran, vendor, church leader or politician”.