ActionAid Calls for an end to Torture, Inhuman Acts and Degrading Treatment of Women and Other Defenseless Citizens

ActionAid Zimbabwe (AAZ) is saddened and shocked by allegations of the abduction, torture, sexual assault and inhuman treatment of three female opposition politicians namely Harare West Member of Parliament Hon Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova. The alleged abuse comes barely two weeks after two sisters from Cowdray Park in Bulawayo, identified as Nokuthula and Ntombozodwa Mpofu, were allegedly brutally assaulted by at least six male police officers for allegedly breaching lockdown rules. In both cases, these brutal attacks were committed by men against defenseless women. We condemn in the strongest of terms all forms of violence against women and girls being perpetrated by uniformed forces as well as those suspected to be state security agents.

Notwithstanding the laws of Zimbabwe as enshrined in the Constitution that stipulate the parameters of law enforcement and underline the civil and political rights of citizens, it continuously appears that the hope for sincerity, national building, tolerance and democratic pluralism remains elusive.

These excessive acts of brutality fly in the face of government rhetoric on democratising and opening up the country. Moreover, re-engagement with the global community, itself a priority of the current government, will run into headwinds because torture, inhumane acts and degrading treatments dent the democratic credentials of the country.

AAZ notes with concern that this is not the first time that such savagery acts have been meted out on citizens, only to be followed by such officious statements promising redress and accountability for victims. With all due deference, the Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr. Nick Mangwana’s statement issued on the 16th of May 2020 in the wake of the disturbing reports alleging that the abductions were stage-managed does little to assuage the legitimate concerns and fears of the population.

As an organization that works with people living in poverty, vulnerable and excluded social groups (chief among them women and young people) to support their voice and agency and strengthen their leadership and engagement, we take strong exception to the unlawful detention, molestation and abuse of the trio mentioned above – who are leaders in their rights. The bizarrely sexist abuse they suffered spotlights the challenges that women in politics and leadership encounter.

It has become impossible to encourage young people to take interest and participate in the public affairs of their country in such a dispensation.
In solidarity with the trio, their families and the constituencies they represent, we join the right-thinking members of our society to demand:

a) The urgent institution of an independent and thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the three women’s abduction, torture and rights violations, and full and transparent implementation of the recommendations,
b) Prosecution of the perpetrators of their ordeal,
c) An undertaking to refrain from the use of disproportionate force by law enforcement, (law enforcement agents should protect the citizens and not harm them,
d) Political tolerance and coexistence remain a cardinal component of a democratic culture where citizens are free to speak their minds out peacefully.

As ActionAid Zimbabwe we remain committed to our vision for a just, equitable and sustainable country in which every person enjoys the right to a life of dignity, freedom from poverty and all forms of oppression.

Source: ActionAid Zimbabwe