By Anna Chibamu
THE MDC has accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa of “lying to the world” after the Zanu PF leader downplayed reports of widespread rape as the security forces launched a brutal crackdown after last month’s anti-government protests.
Responding to allegations of widespread sexual violence by the military and the police, President Mnangagwa recently told a French news channel; “… most of these women have only been paraded on social media.
“We only have one case thus far that has been reported in Chitungwiza.”
However, in an interview with NewZimbabwe.com Tuesday, MDC national chairperson Thabitha Khumalo accused Mnangagwa of lying to the world.
“As a people of Zimbabwe, we are saying to the world that what he (Mnangagwa) said was not true,” she said.
“As MDC, it is absolutely shocking to hear such a statement from the President of Zimbabwe who is illegitimate from our point of view because, to us, he did not win this election.
“The sad thing about Zanu PF is that they have made the truth look like lies, lies look like truth; peace look like war, and war look like peace.”
Scores of women and girls were reportedly raped by army officials who have ransacked houses in the high-density suburbs of Harare, ostensibly in search of protesters accused of destroying property during a three-day shutdown demonstration called by labour unions.
There was international outrage after world media reported the abuse with one woman identified as Melody saying she was raped by two soldiers whilst children watched.
However, the Harare authorities have denied widespread sexual violence with President Mnangagwa demanding that those making the allegations provide proof.
“We are challenging anyone local or foreign to bring produce the women who are said to have been violated,” he said.
“We have publicly pleaded for them to report these cases to police and, if they are not comfortable, they can report at their nearest church.”
Khumalo insisted that there was a real risk of retribution if the victims reported the attacks.
“The women were raped, and those women cannot and will not, for fear of victimization, brutalization and finally death to go and report to the rapes,” she said.
“As women of Zimbabwe we are saying no one, from the head of state right down to the kombi driver, has a right to violate our bodies without consent.”