In a week that President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised to “flush out” his political opponents, a young Bulawayo woman was allegedly abducted, sexually assaulted and badly tortured.
Twenty-three-year-old Noxolo Maphosa’s tormentors allegedly targeted her because they wanted to force her to reveal the whereabouts of Josphat “Mzaca” Ngulube.
Ngulube, who is Maphosa’s cousin, is one of over a dozen activists that were forced to go underground following a vicious crackdown by state security agents that were hunting for organisers of the July 31 protests.
Pictures of Maphosa taken after she was dumped near her house by her captors following a day of torture are chilling.
Her story mirrors that of 22-year-old Tawanda Muchehiwa, a nephew of Zimlive editor Mduduzi Mathuthu, who was allegedly abducted on July 30 by suspected state security agents.
Muchehiwa’s abductors, who held him for three days until the High Court ruled that the state must produce him within 72 hours, was accused of being involved in the planned protests.
The suspected state security operatives also wanted him to disclose Mathuthu’s whereabouts.
The journalist, who like the incarcerated Hopewell Chin’ono, was instrumental in exposing the Drax International Covid-19 medical sundries scandal, is being pursued by the state over unclear charges.
A clear pattern, however, is emerging of a government that is determined to silence dissent even through callous means that include abductions and torture of citizens.
Mnangagwa’s labelling of Zimbabweans opposed to his style of leadership as bad apples, terrorists and rogues is incendiary.
The classification of citizens as enemies of the state has only served to unleash rogues to go about abducting and torturing innocent citizens.
Mnangagwa has a long history of using inflammatory language to characterise opponents of the ruling party and often what follows the pronouncements is a chilling violation of human rights.
His statements during the Gukurahundi era when he was State Security minister are often cited as one of the reasons that could have driven the murderous campaign by the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade in Matabeleland and the Midlands.
Since the formation of the MDC in 1999, Mnangagwa has at different platforms equated the opposition to the devil. Some people that opted to give him a chance when he took over the highest office in 2017, hoped he was a changed man.
As tensions rise in the country over an imploding economy, expectations were that as head of state, Mnangagwa would show statesmanship and rally Zimbabweans to unite.
Instead the opposite is happening and it does not bode well for Zimbabweans who heaved a sigh of relief only three years ago when Robert Mugabe’s murderous reign was ended by those that promised a new dispensation.