HARARE – The United States embassy in Harare on Wednesday voiced concern over the latest crackdown on pro-democracy activists by Zimbabwe’s security forces ahead of a series of planned opposition protests.
Blessing Kanotunga, the Movement for Democratic Change’s youth chairman for Mufakose and Tatenda Mombeyarara, the coordinator of the Citizen’s Manifesto were dragged from their homes on Tuesday night by suspected state security agents and tortured before being dumped.
Human rights lawyers said the two men were interrogated over anti-government protests planned for Harare on Friday.
The US embassy called on the Zimbabwe government to bring the perpetrators to account.
“The U.S. government is concerned about renewed reports of abductions and assault of civil society members and opposition party members. Harassment and intimidation have no place in a democratic and pluralistic society,” the embassy said in a statement sent out on Twitter.
“We will be visiting victims of the latest violence against civil society and opposition activists to hear their stories and document their injuries. We call on the government of Zimbabwe to condemn these attacks and hold those responsible to account.”
Ndavaningi Mangwana, the government spokesman, said: “The government condemns the use of torture. The constitution prohibits the use of such barbaric acts.
“I don’t know who is doing this but I certainly know that whoever is doing the alleged acts is not on President Mnangagwa’s side because it’s contrary to what he stands for and what he is working to achieve for this nation. It needs to be investigated and culprits arrested.”
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the activists were beaten on the soles of their feet – a common torture technique used by Zimbabwe’s security forces.
An unknown chemical was poured on Mombeyarara, causing him blisters on his back.
MDC deputy president Tendai Biti said: “The abduction and torture last night of activist Mombeyarara and our member Kanotunga is completely unacceptable. This regime is murderous and has been consistent in its attacks on the citizen. The continued assault on human rights must stop.”
Biti said since Mnangagwa took power in a military coup in November 2017 “political space has shrunk, and the rights of citizens have systematically been muzzled.”
“There has been a massive increase in deaths, violence, rape, detentions, mass trials and the systematic use of torture as a weapon. This is fascism.”
Source: Zim Live