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Zimbabwe: Civil society campaign against state abductions

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, Zimbabwe, Breaking News, Citizen Media, Digital Activism, Freedom of Speech, Governance, Human Rights, Politics, Protest

Human rights activist and journalist Jestina Mukoko was abducted [1] from her home on Wednesday the 3rd of December at dawn. According to several civil society reports [2], including the Kubatana blog written by a group of online activists:

…a group of at least 12 men in two unmarked vehicles came to her house. She was taken by force still barefoot and in her pyjamas. More than 24 hours later, there is still no sign of Mukoko, nor any indication of her whereabouts or who might have abducted her.

Jestina Mukoko is the director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project [3] (ZPP), a local human rights organisation that is involved in monitoring and documenting human rights violations in Zimbabwe. This is Zimbabwe, the blog of the Zimbabwe Civic Action Support group Sokwanele, wrote [4]:

Mukoko and ZPP are well known for their brave stance of highlighting the brutality and deaths that were brought upon the MDC supporters by Zanu PF militia and state security agents in the run up to the June 27 presidential run-off.

Following Jestina Mukoko's abduction, the Zimbabwe Civic Action Support Group Sokwanele launched a campaign [5] calling upon the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) to urgently intervene and make sure that the MDC activists and Jestina Mukoko are released before any further harm is done to them. The campaign includes a list of actions to help release of all the abducted people, including calling the Norton Police Station (Mukoko's neighborhood), writing appeal letters or spreading the word through an embeddable widget (see left). Amnesty International has also demanded [6] the inmediate release of Jestina Mukoko who, as the Executive Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, is viewed as the most high-profile person to be abducted in Zimbabwe to date.

According to Sokwanele, the same day that Jestina Mukoko was abducted, six other people were arrested [7] in Harare:

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) Secretary General and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) General Councillor, Raymond Majongwe, was arrested together with six others today at 9.30 am while walking opposite the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) building along Samora Machel Avenue. An eye witness revealed that an unspecified number of women who were with Majongwe were beaten up and dispersed from the scene.

[..] SABC journalist and former ZBC reporter, John Nyashanu, was arrested together with two other journalists by riot police at 1030 hours. The arrests took place on the corner of Second Street and Union Avenue in Harare’s CBD. Details of their apprehension are still unclear.

Moreover, in the Stop Abductions in Zimbabwe [5] campaign page, Sokwanele lists 17 other people that were reportedly abducted and that are still missing:

1. Concillia Chinanzvavana, the MDC Mashonaland West provincial Chairperson of the Women’s Assembly, a former parliamentary candidate for Zvimba South and a member of the MDC National Council.
2. Her husband, Emmanuel Chinanzvana, who is a councillor for Ward 25 in Zvimba South.
3. Fidelis Chiramba, Zvimba South district chairperson, who stood as an MDC senatorial candidate for Zvimba in the March 29 elections.
4. Ernest Mudimu, MDC parliamentary candidate for Zvimba North in the March 29 elections.
5. Fanwell Tembo, MDC Zvimba South youth organiser.
6. Terry Musona, MDC deputy provincial secretary.
7. Lloyd Tarumbwa, MDC activist.
8. Violet Mupfuranhehwe, wife to MDC Zvimba South youth chairperson – Collen Mutemagawo.
9. Collen Mutemagawo, MDC Zvimba South youth chairperson.
10. A two year-old child belonging to Mupfuranhehwe and Mutemagawo.
11. Pieat Kaseke, MDC activist.
12. Gwenzi Kahiya, MDC activist.
13. Tawanda Bvumo, MDC activist from Chitungwiza.
14. Agrippa Kakonda, MDC activist.
15. Larry Gaka, MDC activist.
16. Chris Dlamini, MDC activist
17. Baba vaSarudzayi

Update Dec. 8th afternoon: According to Sokwanele, two more people from the Zimbabwe Peace Project have been abducted today [8]:

More than 151 hours after the abduction of Zimbabwe Peace Project Director, Jestina Mukoko, from her Norton home, six suspected state agents today abducted two ZPP employees Broderick Takawira (Provincial Coordinator) and Pascal Gonzo (driver) from their Mount Pleasant offices. According to eye witnesses, the six forcibly entered the ZPP offices before insisting to see Takawira, who they force-marched, together with Gonzo, into a waiting vehicle before speeding off.