Thursday, December 11, 2008



NATION CorrespondentPosted
December 10 2008

Top human rights activist allegedly seized by suspected state agents a week ago is still missing

One of the prominent human rights activists allegedly seized by suspected state agents a week ago is still missing amid renewed abductions of President Robert Mugabe’s opponents.

The new wave of kidnapping comes at a time when Mr Mugabe is under renewed pressure to step down to save Zimbabwe from total collapse.

There are fears the country is fast sliding back into the anarchy that characterised the veteran leader’s June 27 controversial re-election in the face of an intensifying humanitarian crisis and political uncertainty.

The High Court today granted an application by a group of lawyers who wanted an order compelling police to search for Ms Jestina Mukoko, a former television personality-turned-human rights campaigner who was seized by 12 gunmen from her home a week ago.

The lawyers argued in the case that abductions in Zimbabwe have resulted in many deaths. Police deny holding Ms Mukoko or any of the activists.

Gunmen moving in unmarked cars abducted three more opposition activists and human rights campaigners last Tuesday.

Those abducted include Mr Gandhi Mudzingwa, a former personal aide to main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai who was abducted in broad daylight in central Harare.

The MDC, which signed a September 15 power sharing agreement with the ruling Zanu PF, says 18 of its supporters seized by state agents over a month ago were still unaccounted for.

“The MDC believes there is a systematic plot to decimate the party structures, the leadership and civil rights groups involved in compiling dossiers of violence and human rights abuses,” the MDC said in statement.

“The continued onslaught on the MDC and civic society leaders threatens the dialogue process as the political rights and basic freedoms of citizens is guaranteed in the global political agreement.”

Mr Brian Raftopoulos of the Solidarity Peace Trust said the abduction of activists and the violent crackdown of protests was linked to the failure of the power sharing agreement, which has seen Zimbabwe go without a substantive government for close to a year.

“As long as the political stalemate continues, we will see an increasing crackdown,” he said. “The Mugabe regime is presiding over the death of the nation of Zimbabwe.”

The stalled power sharing deal has left Zimbabwe paralysed and world leaders impatient with Mr Mugabe’s leadership.

A cholera epidemic that has so far claimed the lives of 774 people and worsening food shortages has seen global attention shifting back to the long running political and economic problems in Zimbabwe.

United States President George Bush yesterday joined a chorus of leaders calling for Mr Mugabe to step down.

“It’s time for Robert Mugabe to go,” Mr Bush said as he urged African leaders from across the region to “ step up and join the chorus of voices calling for an end to Mugabe’s tyranny.

“Across the continent, African voices are bravely speaking out to say now is the time for him to step down.