By Anna Chibamu
THE Zimbabwe Human Rights (NGO) Forum says government must stop creating imaginary enemies and instead focus on delivering its constitutional duty to guarantee the safety, security and welfare of its citizens.
In a statement issued Sunday, the Forum reminded President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to find lasting solutions to the country’s mounting economic and political crisis as opposed to taking citizens for enemies.
“When all around, the international community, CSOs (civil society organisations) and citizens become enemies, it is time for self-examination,” said the Forum.
The statement was in response to Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe who last week condemned members of the Forum for allegedly being behind some disturbances taking place in the country.
Kazembe last week also claimed abductions on Harare West MP Joanna Mamombe, MDC Alliance activists Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova by suspected State security agents last month were stage-managed by the three with the aid of CSOs.
The trio, which is still hospitalised, narrated harrowing experiences of brutal assault and sexual abuse in the hands of its tormentors.
The three were later found dumped in rural Bindura a day later and their ordeal has grabbed international media headlines.
“The Forum notes with dismay, shock and repugnance the mention of three of our members by Minister Kazembe Kazembe,” the Forum said.
“The statement insinuated that the abductions are fake and mentioned our three members in a manner meant to create an association with the allegations of fake abductions.
“We categorically state that the Counselling Services Unit (CSU) is not an ‘opposition-aligned NGO’ as claimed by the minister, but an apolitical entity recognised and operating in terms of the laws of Zimbabwe.”
The Forum denied being “avid critics of government” but lawful entities that exist for constitutional causes.
“Collectively and individually, we have responded to human rights abuses and rendered services to victims, including legal services to many who are wrongfully charged and end up being acquitted in criminal courts.
“Our members have worked ceaselessly, including lending their expertise, in aid to the government-led fight against Covid-19. The mentioned CSOs in the minister’s statement are long-standing, bonafide civil society organisations whose work speaks for itself. We put on record our concerns for their safety and welfare, and it is our hope that these institutions and their personnel will remain untouched and unharmed,” the Forum said.
It went on to say the persistent and ceaseless attacks on CSOs leaders through “skulduggery approaches and persecution by prosecution” are well-documented tactics by the ruling Zanu PF government.
“We invite the government to release the investigative report to the public so that all concerned can dissect the report and make sense of what transpired in the investigators’ view.
“We have already seen the charging and arrest of the victims, and following these utterances by the government, it will not be surprising to witness further charges for ‘faking abductions’ levelled against the victims in the following days including those who have worked to assist the victims.”