Armed soldiers abduct two MDC officials

Heavily armed soldiers abduct the Saunyama brothers

Movement for Democratic Change party

20 February 2019

Robert Saunyama, popularly known as Jack Roberts, of Zimunya Township in Mutare South and his younger brother and Chikanga-Dangamvura's Ward 6 Councilor, Danmore Saunyama, are reported to have been abducted by ZNA soldiers suspected to be from 3/1 infantry battalion around 2130hrs yesterday .

Jack Roberts is the MDC District Chairman for Mutare South, a constituency he contested for representing the MDC Alliance as a parliamentary candidate in the 30 July harmonised elections.

The soldiers are reported to have arrived in an unmarked Toyota double cab truck. They numbered around 8 and were heavily armed.

They forced their entry into Jack's house where he was hosting his brother who had visited him with his wife and that of his other brother Jericho. The soldiers started assaulting the wives of the three brothers and their children, together with Clr Danmore.

All this while four soldiers were training their guns on Jack Roberts threatening to shoot him should he attempt to fight them.

The victims of this barbaric military brutality bled profusely and suffered various degrees of injuries.

The soldiers then bundled the two brothers and took them to an unknown destination.

This brutality is coming only three weeks after we buried Noah Sahumbe of Zimunya Township who succumbed to injuries he sustained after beatings by soldiers from 3 Brigade.

Zimunya Township has been a little hell since the stayaway disturbances.

The residents of this sleepy township have not known peace ever since.

What is clear from this incident is that Zimbabwe is descending into a dark period of kidnappings, abductions, beatings, murders and extrajudicial killings.

The dark days of Gukurahundi* and 2008 run-off killings are upon us once again.

One cannot fail to link the veiled threats by Mr Mnangagwa** over the weekend in Masvingo province with this heinous operation.

It's clear the junta has stepped up the terror campaign against ordinary, peace loving citizens.

Is this the new dispensation? Clearly there is nothing new but a continuation of Mugabe's legacy of brutality.

Trevor Saruwaka
MDC Manicaland Province Spokesperson

*The Gukurahundi massacres:  1983-1987 – information added from Internet

Gukurahundi refers to massacres carried out by President Mugabe’s North Korean-trained 5th Brigade between 1983 (only three years after independence) and 1987 in the predominantly Ndebele regions of Zimbabwe.  About 20,000 people in Matabeleland and the Midlands died or disappeared. In September 2010, the Gukurahundi massacres were classified as a genocide by the internationally recognised group Genocide Watch.]

** Mnangagwa issues chilling warning

Comment from David Coltart, a human rights lawyer in Zimbabwe:

This chilling statement just issued by the Spokesperson of the MDC Manicaland is reminiscent of the worst of Gukurahundi in the 1980s when state agents abducted ZAPU members. The modus operandi is identical - relatively low ranking, unknown second or third tier leaders were then systematically abducted and disappeared. In that way the regime can decimate the structures of the opposition without too much negative publicity.

That is why senior ZAPU leaders who had strong name recognition were rarely abducted in the 1980s. The legal system was used as a weapon against these senior leaders- as we are now witnessing in the utterly spurious prosecution and conviction of Tendai Biti.

But lesser known party leaders are now under serious threat by the Mnangagwa regime. It is time for the world to act. And those apologists of the regime need to make a decision - are they going to continue supporting this regime? If they do they will inevitably be tainted and become complicit themselves for the crimes against humanity being committed. This also applies to those in Cabinet such as Mthuli Ncube [finance minister], and Kirsty Coventry [Minister of Youth, Arts and Sports].

Silence in the face of terror is condonation. We all have a duty to shout from the rooftops against these crimes; if we all don’t do this they will continue and indeed escalate. By the end of the Gukurahundi hundreds of ZAPU activists had been murdered by the regime. We cannot allow that to happen again.

David Coltart, MDC Senator is a human rights lawyer in Zimbabwe. He was first elected to represent the Bulawayo South House of Assembly constituency in June 2000, and was re-elected in March 2005. In March 2008 he was elected as a Senator to represent the Khumalo Senatorial constituency in Bulawayo. Senator Coltart was sworn in as Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture in February 2009 under the coalition government