Zimbabwe must investigate over 50 abductions – US Ambassador

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By Idah Mhetu

UNITED States ambassador to Zimbabwe, Brian Nichols on Tuesday said Zimbabwe’s security forces in this country continue to use excessive force when dealing with dissent, arguing this was unacceptable.

The US diplomat was speaking in an interview aired on social media with a local publication.

Nichols said Zimbabwe has a recalcitrant problem on the issue of reforms and that resistance is what is holding the country back.

“That recalcitrance to take on real reforms that can move the country forward is what’s holding it back,” Nichols said.

The US slapped Zimbabwe with what it describes as targeted measures but the administration in Harare argues the sanctions have affected ordinary Zimbabweans the most.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government will on Friday lead a demonstration in Harare and across the country demanding that the reforms be lifted.

The narrative from Harare has found a buy-in across the region with Sadc countries all agreeing to set aside October 25 as a date they will all call for the sanctions to be removed.

Nichols said Mnangagwa’s administration must resolve dozens of reports of abductions in the past few months.

“We have seen very disturbing incidences of abductions of civil society members. We have seen protests turning violent in August 2018, January and August 2019 and turning off the internet.

“Zimbabwe has got more than 50 abduction cases that have not yet been investigated, that is something that is very crucial,” said Nichols.

“Those things were deeply concerning to the international community and to average Zimbabweans.”

The US envoy also said Zimbabwe needs to have permanent reforms so as to address the challenges being faced.

“There is need to have concrete, permanent and irreversible reforms to address the challenges that this country is facing,” added Nichols.

Earlier this year, Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo said there was no turning back on the reforms by President Mnangagwa’s government.

He argued Mnangagwa is committed to implementing the reforms and pleaded with the United States (US) government to remove sanctions against Zimbabwe and give the country a chance to recover.