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Abductions rock region

by Staff reporter
02 Aug 2020 at 09:16hrs | Views
THE MDC Alliance claims unknown men abducted eight of their Matabeleland South members last week as cases of enforced disappearances climb.

The incidents came a week after an MDC Alliance member in Bulilima, Joseph Mazwi Ndlovu, was allegedly fatally assaulted by suspected Zanu-PF members for questioning the distribution of food aid along political lines.

Ndlovu died last Sunday after reportedly succumbing to injuries sustained during the assault by members of the neighbourhood watch committee, who were allegedly in charge of the registration for the food aid.

According to the MDC Alliance, Ndlovu suffered the wrath of ruling Zanu-PF members after he questioned why alleged opposition supporters were being denied the opportunity to register for the social welfare food aid programme.

The incident reportedly happened on Thursday at Gwambe village during a meeting called by the local leadership to register for the food aid.

On Friday, MDC Alliance secretary for international relations Gladys Hlatywayo said Bulilima East ward secretary Ephraim Ndlovu and seven others were the latest victims of alleged state-sponsored violence.

"MDC Alliance Bulilima East ward secretary Ndlovu and other seven members were abducted at 4am this morning by unknown men dressed in civilian clothes," Hlatywayo tweeted on Friday.

MDC Alliance Matabeleland South provincial chairperson Solani Moyo confirmed the developments when contacted for comment.

"Yes, that is true. We are just from mourning one of our members, who was assaulted for asking why people were being denied food aid and now this! We can't breathe," Moyo said.

Police deny any involvement in abduction or kidnap attempts of MDC Alliance and other human rights activists.

Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, the police spokesperson, claimed Ndlovu died following a fistfight and the matter was not political.

"On July 23, the member of the neighbourhood watch committee came across Ndlovu, who was in his donkey-drawn scotch cart and upon being asked why he was cruel (as it was overloaded), he reacted by assaulting him. A fist fight broke out between the two...," Nyathi said.

He said the case was reported to the police, with Ndlovu being taken to Plumtree hospital and then Bulawayo where he succumbed to the injuries. Nyathi said the suspected murderer had since been arrested

"These are the correct facts on the ground.

"However, we now have a problem with people who are politicising things that are clear. We have individuals that are politicising issues for self-gain.

"Let me warn such individuals against causing alarm, grandstanding on issues for political scores to cause alarm and despondency on cases that are properly being handled by the police."

Political temperatures had been rising in the country in recent days ahead of the Friday anti-government protests.

Government and the ruling Zanu-PF argue the "abduction claims are a script aimed at tarnishing its image, and stalling re-engagement efforts".

The enforced disappearance of government critics has been an established pattern since post-independence.

In 2008, dozens of opposition and human rights activists were also kidnapped for weeks in a crackdown. The state repeatedly denied its involvement, but many activists were later found in state custody, while the fate and whereabouts of others remain unknown.

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace documented enforced disappearances in Matabeleland and Midlands during the Gukurahundi massacres that left nearly 20 000 dead, according to the commission.

Source - the standard