Political persecution characterized by arbitrary arrests and unlawful detentions have been a common tool for political repression as governments seek to silence diverse voices in Africa and the world over.
Such is the case in Masvingo where Bikita-based Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) activist John Mupanduki, a victim of abduction earlier this year by alleged security agents before he was dumped in Mashava in the wee hours of the day.
Mupanduki shared his experiences with this publication and vowed that the experiences will not deter him from pursuing a free and democratic Zimbabwe.
“It was on January 7, 2022 when I was awakened at around 0300 hours at my place in Bikita by people I believe were state security agents who drove me to Mashava where I was later dumped. My crime was that I had paid for logistics to ferry CCC supporters from Bikita West to Chiremwaremwa in Bikita South where CCC vice president Lynnette Karenyi-Kore was to address a gathering sometime in December 2021.
“After the rally, I was quizzed by some guys from state security as well as Zanu PF supporters on my role in ferrying the people whom they believed were many. I was taken and severely beaten after which I went to seek medication at private health centres. On January 20, I went to report my case at Law and Order in Masvingo where the officers asked me the exact time when I was given my phone but after I roughly guessed that is when they laid charges of giving false information to the State.
“After the charges were laid, I made around 10 court appearances following my being granted bail of ZW$ 5 000 where the case kept on being postponed until I was declared innocent and had charges dropped. Following my attaining freedom, I was surprised that anonymous people kept roaming around my place of residence for reasons better known to them. My family at one point became restless due to presence of unknown people at our place,” said Mupanduki.
He however said despite all the setbacks he had experienced at the hands of the abductors and law enforcement agents frustrating his efforts towards ensuring justice prevails, he will continue with the march.
“On June 10 this year, I was also attacked by Zanu PF supporters at Duma shops of Nyika growth point and went to report my assault case at Bikita. What surprised me after reporting was that the assailant (Isaac Mashanda) went for 14 days without being arrested but only received a call from the Law and Order instructing me to make a new report against my assailant.
“At some point, I was disturbed as to why I would be required to go to Masvingo for a case I had already reported in Bikita. There is preferential treatment accorded to Zanu PF activists because if I was the one who had assaulted their activist, am sure could have been arrested as soon as the case was reported. I was forced to consent that my assailant was innocent by signing a document produced by the police to which I declined. What it shows is that the current government ignores human rights as they always preside over gross violations of such. I feel Mugabe regime was far much better than Mnangagwa’s.
“As an activist, I have grown stronger in political activism. I also draw inspiration from the ordeals of people like President Mnangagwa when he spoke of being detained during the colonial era spending more than 10 years in prisons. I am ready even to be detained as long as I fight to liberate the current generation of politicians in Zimbabwe until we realize a better government in the country,” he added.
The remarks by Mupanduki come at a time countries the world over join in the commemoration of the Day for Victims of Enforced Disappearances on August 30.
United Nations (UN) General Assembly resolution 47/133 of December 18, 1992 define enforced disappearance as when ‘persons are arrested, detained or abducted against their will or otherwise deprived of their liberty by officials or different levels of government or by organized groups or individuals acting on behalf of or with the support, direct or indirect, consent or acquiescence of the government, followed by refusal to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the persons concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of their liberty, which places such persons outside the protection of the law’.