Death of Zimbabwe opposition activist raises fears of political crisis | ET REALITY


An activist from Zimbabwe’s main opposition party was found dead on the side of a road in the capital Harare, police said on Tuesday. A party spokesman said he had been kidnapped while campaigning in local elections over the weekend.

The death of activist Tapfumanei Masaya is the latest in what opposition and civil society leaders say has been a series of violent episodes that have fueled a growing political crisis in the southern African nation since elections were held. nationals in August.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his ruling ZANU-PF party maintained power in the August elections, despite doubts raised by regional and international observers about the credibility of the elections.

Masaya, a 51-year-old pastor, was campaigning door-to-door Saturday to promote a candidate along with other members of the Citizen Coalition for Change political party when several vans stopped and the attackers jumped out and chased them, Gift Ostallos said. Siziba. a party spokesperson.

When Masaya stopped to help a fellow disabled activist, the attackers pounced on them, beat them and took them away in separate vehicles, Siziba said.

The attackers eventually left the disabled activist, still alive, on the road, but held Mr. Masaya, Siziba said. He was found dead on Sunday, with his body disfigured by machete cuts, the spokesman said.

Masaya’s death has raised alarm in a nation where, officials with the Citizen Coalition for Change say, at least four of its members have been murdered since last year. Masaya was the fourth party member kidnapped and tortured in the last two months, although the other three survived. according to a publish in Xformerly Twitter, by David Coltart, party senator.

In one such case, Takudzwa Ngadziore, a member of Parliament, posted a video on Facebook of what he said was his own abduction. In the short, shaky video he is seen in a suit and tie, breathing heavily, and a man wearing a cap with the Mercedes logo and a rifle rushes towards him. Then the footage ends.

Police confirmed Mr. Masaya’s identity in a statement issued Tuesday, but said they were still investigating the circumstances surrounding his death.

Farai Muroiwa Marapira, director of information and publicity for the ruling ZANU-PF party, said it was disrespectful and irresponsible of the opposition to jump to conclusions about the death before the police investigation had been completed.

ZANU-PF had nothing to do with Mr Masaya’s death, he said. The opposition, he said, “would prefer to seek political benefits from the loss of a family.”

Several kidnappings and some of Zimbabwe’s worst post-colonial political violence occurred after the highly disputed 2008 elections, which led to a power-sharing agreement between ZANU-PF and the main opposition party at the time, the Movement for Democratic Change.

The lack of police intervention or other state efforts to curb the violence “creates a culture of impunity in the country, and those behind the kidnappings and rights abuses would continue to do so, knowing that nothing would happen to them,” Rawlings Magede said. , spokesperson for Heal Zimbabwe Trust, a non-profit peacebuilding organisation.

Magede said “the human rights situation in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate” after this year’s elections.

A Southern African Development Community observation mission criticized this year’s vote, saying there had been several irregularities, an almost unprecedented rebuke from a regional body that tends to avoid openly criticizing member countries.

The election, Siziba said, had created “a crisis of illegitimacy in which the state is turning against its own citizens.”

Marapira rejected that claim, saying the Citizens Coalition for Change had not challenged the election result in court within the time allowed by Zimbabwean law.

“In the media, anyone who receives attention can say whatever they want, whether there is truth, fiction or lack of reality,” he said. “The crisis is only in the imagination of the opposition.”

Jeffrey Moyo contributed reporting from Harare, Zimbabwe.

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