Opinion: The torture of Tawanda Muchehiwa is yet another new low

Mduduzi Mathuthu is a renowned Zimbabwean investigative journalist.
ZimLive, the online newspaper he edits, has published a number of stories on widespread, and to some extent, institutionalised corruption. Most of those stories have exposed senior government officials and business people with clear links to Zanu PF.

Mathuthu’s work had gone under the radar, or so he thought, until 30th July 2020.
Having also published previews about a protest organised by a peripheral political opposition figure, slated for the following day, Mathuthu had secretly been marked and targeted by state agents. For strange reasons, they accused him of being one of the protest’s organisers.

Police stormed his home in Zimbabwe’s second-largest city, Bulawayo, in the afternoon of 30 July 2020, hoping to abduct and torture him as has become standard practice by the unprofessional Zimbabwe Republic Police when dealing with perceived enemies of the state as defined by ZANU-PF. Fortunately, the ZimLive editor was not at home when that happened. His nephew, Tawanda Muchehiwa, was not as lucky though.

Tawanda Muchehiwa is a 22-year-old journalism student. Police took him as bait and for a couple of days in captivity,  they tortured him in a way that has roused emotions of anger and widespread condemnation. The regime has lost its marbles.

Everyone is quite aware of the level of cruelty the Emmerson Mnangagwa led-government is capable of, but misdirecting anger towards someone who is independent of the issue at hand was just a new low and a blow below the belt.

For starters, the person being pursued, Mathuthu had not done anything wrong. He simply exposed the rot that keeps creeping up and deepening its roots within the system. If anything, he deserves a reward for his commendable work. Yet that has endangered his life and that of members of his close family.

The current regime’s record has always been marred by accusations of violation of human rights, but it seems  those in authority are so drunk with power they never stop for a bit to reflect on the pain they continuously inflict on innocent citizens.

Subjecting innocent citizens to abduction, torture, rape and other despicable forms of brutality,  creates an irreconcilable gulf between the government and the citizens, destroys lives and causes citizens to lose respect for law enforcement agencies.

Victims lose their dignity. They become scarred for life, physically, psychologically and emotionally. There is little scope for healing and recovering from that.

The ordeal suffered by Tawanda Muchehiwa is just one example of thousands of similar incidents. The fact that the trend continues unabated is a clear sign that the government of Zimbabwe is unrepentant and will go to any length to cling to power despite being unpopular.

The list of his rights that were violated include the right to personal freedom, security, shelter and food, among others.

For Muchehiwa, all these were thrown out through the window the moment the alleged State security agents set their hands on him.

He suffered acute renal failure as a direct result of torture, at a critical time when health workers are hardly reporting for duty in protest against poor remuneration and poor working conditions. 
One can thus, only ask themselves if ever the independence that is constantly preached in the country was ever attained in the first place. What is independence, who is independent, from who or what?

Mnangagwa and his allies need to realise that people are fed up and that the wind of change is unstoppable.

The issue of the violation of human rights in Zimbabwe has always been and will always be a cause for concern.

Some people are going to have to answer for these once they leave office.


Nontokozo Malaba Ncube is a human rights activist and a member of Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) Zimbabwe’s UK Chapter. She is also a member of the opposition MDC Alliance party. She is based in the United Kingdom and can be contacted by email on nmncube44408@gmail.com

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