The newly-formed opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) led by Nelson Chamisa has claimed that its council candidate for Highfield West was Tuesday forcibly taken by ZANU PF youths.
The party said Maxwell Dutuma was assaulted by “ZANU PF thugs with another of our youth members.” In a statement, seen by Pindula News, CCC said:
#ALERT MAX DUTUMA, CCC candidate for Ward 26 (Highfield West) Max Dutuma has been forcibly taken by Zanu PF youths. His car has been hijacked by them. He was in Gazaland at the time they took him against his will.
Instead of the perpetrators being arrested, he was detained at Machipisa Police Station. #StopPoliticalViolence
Why The Timing Is Concerning:
- The alleged kidnapping and torture happen when Zimbabwe is gearing for 26 March by-elections to fill vacant council and Parliamentary seats.
- Political violence – intraparty and interparty violence- has been on the rise in the country as parties started campaigning for the by-elections and 2023 harmonised elections.
- Zimbabwe has a history of violence shortly before, during and after elections. A typical example is the 2008 violence that transpired before the presidential runoff during which several opposition MDC supporters were killed, kidnapped and or assaulted.
- This year, a CCC supporter, Mbongeni Ncube, was stabbed to death by suspected ZANU PF supporters at the party’s rally in Kwekwe.
- Also this year, ZANU PF supporters were reportedly attacked by stone-throwers in Bulawayo.
- Reports of kidnapping are not new. Journalist Itayi Dzamara‘s whereabouts are still unknown after he was allegedly kidnapped in 2015.
- Several others, mainly government critics including opposition members and human rights defenders, reported between 2019 and 2021 that they were kidnapped and tortured by suspected state security agents.
- Authorities deny the allegations, reckon a “third force” was behind the alleged abductions or they are being staged to soil the image of the government.
Why Does This Matter:
- Zimbabwe is reeling from the effects of sanctions imposed on the country at the turn of the millennium over alleged human rights abuses.
- The West, which imposed the sanctions, said the enhancement of good governance is a precondition for the removal of sanctions and for Zimbabwe to rejoin the international community.
- Violence can dissuade the electorate and elections can be rendered “not free and not fair”.