Zimbabwe, two dead people and Rwanda’s Commonwealth

…Accusations could scuttle Zim’s rejoining bid

Review & Mail Reporters

Zimbabwe’s detractors are reportedly working in cahoots with local opposition parties and civil society organisations to scuttle Zimbabwe’s chances of being re-admitted into the Commonwealth using the unfortunate murder of Moreblessing Ali and the death in Zimbabwe of Rwanda fugitive, Protais Mpiranya.

Ali, a Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) activist, was allegedly kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend, Pius Jamba a member of ZANU PF on May 24 in Chitungwiza, in a purely personal matter following a failed love affair.

However, the West, working with the opposition CCC attempted to politicise the purely criminal matter by insinuating that the murder was politically motivated and accusing the ruling ZANU PF of having a hand in the kidnapping and subsequent murder of Ali.

Ironically, this is also happening just 10 days before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting scheduled for Kigali, Rwanda on June 22, where Zimbabwe will be seeking re-admission.

This gives every reason for the government of Zimbabwe to believe that it is meant to scuttle its re-admission bid on the guise of human rights abuses.

While police are yet to conclude their investigations to determine the motive of the murder, those in the opposition and civil society have already concluded that it was politically motivated despite evidence of a love relationship between Ali and Jamba.

Mpiranya, a fugitive wanted in connection with the 1994 Rwanda genocide, died in Harare some years ago and was buried at a local cemetery under a pseudonym where it was discovered by UN investigators working in conjunction with the Zimbabwe government last month.

Although Mpiranya was buried in 2006, the discovery of his body came after Zimbabwe had asked Rwanda for help in its attempt to re-join the Commonwealth.

This was viewed by the Zimbabwean government as a ploy by the United Kingdom and its allies in the West to spoil relations between the countries so that Zimbabwe did not get the support it sought from Rwanda on allegations of harbouring Mpiranya.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Fredrick Shava, however, pointed out that Zimbabwe would never harbour any fugitives, noting that it had instead, cooperated with the UN investigators resulting in the discovery of Mpiranya’s body.

Interestingly, several other incidents of abductions, killings and abuse of opposition political party activists have occurred shortly before important international events, raising a lot of questions about the timing and motives.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Nick Mangwana said the fact that the suspects in the Ali murder case were known ZANU PF supporters did not meant that it was politically motivated.

 “If in a private dispute someone is murdered by a person that supports, say Dynamos FC, it’s not a Dynamos murder. If one is robbed by say, a Catholic devotee, it’s not a robbery by the Catholic Church,” he posted on his micro-blogging site Twitter.

 The ruling ZANU PF party said the murder of Ali, whose decomposing body was discovered in a well in Nyatsime at the weekend was purely a criminal matter.

In a statement, ZANU PF Director for Information and Publicity Tafadzwa Mugwadi, said the death was being politicised by the CCC and others in a bid to tarnish the image of the country ahead of the CHOGM meeting scheduled for Rwanda on June 10, where Zimbabwe will be seeking re-admission to the Commonwealth.

Ali was allegedly abducted from a bottle store in Chitungwiza by her ex-boyfriend Pius Jamba on May 24 and her mutilated body was discovered at a homestead in Manyame on June 11.

The body was retrieved from a well at the homestead of a known Chitungwiza ZANU PF member, Simbarashe Chisango, who is believed to be related to Jamba, also a known ZANU PF member.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), however, issued a statement saying Ali was a victim of a love crime and her disappearance had nothing to do with politics.

The CCC, however, insisted that the murder of Ali, whose body was reportedly cut into two and her intestines stashed in a plastic bag, was politically motivated and accused the police of attempting to protect the suspects.

But Mugwadi questioned why the incident was happening at a time Rwanda was scheduled to host the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting.

He said these were attempts by the opposition political parties to tarnish ZANU PF and government, saying they were choreographed to destabilise Zimbabwe’s foreign policy.

“In 10 days’ time, the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting (CHOGM) will be underway in Kigali-Rwanda. Through the engagement and re-engagement agenda, Zimbabwe has expressed interest to be admitted into the Commonwealth of Nations.

“The prospects for that have increased significantly under the Second Republic than they were before. More countries have warmed up to that. But if that were to happen, the MDC-CCC factions and their regime change agenda will be exposed and fizzle away from the face of our politics.” He said.

He said such incidents involving the abductions and harassment of opposition political party activists always happened ahead of “international conferences, summits, or events of diplomatic significance to Zimbabwe”

“ The idea is to try to embarrass leadership ahead of such summits or provoke international discussions about Zimbabwe badly, justify renewal of illegal sanctions on our nation and presenting the opposition groups as victims of the state,” said Mugwadi.

Mugwadi said the opposition was twisting facts on the matter in an effort to arm-twist the United Kingdom to deny Zimbabwe re-admission into the Commonwealth.

Munyaradzi Kashambe, the ZANU PF Member of Parliament for Seke weighed in, saying the CCC wanted to use Ali’s death to gain cheap political mileage.

“This was a domestic issue and that must be corrected and we would like to warn the CCC members to take heed of President Mnangagwa’s call that we want peaceful and free elections in Zimbabwe not this violent election they are engaging in.

“We know of their dirty tricks, we know of their political grandstanding and we know of their handlers who fund them and this is the news they want to hear,” he said.

“We as ZANU PF are saying no, Moreblessing’s case was not a political murder, this was a family dispute- a promiscuous dispute,” he said.

But CCC spokesperson, Fadzai Mahere said there was no politicisation of the murder, noting the opposition party was simply demanding justice for its slain member.

“This is a Constitutional imperative. Section 219 mandates the police to investigate crime, serve and protect citizens and act in an impartial manner,” she said.

Mahere scoffed at suggestions that Ali was in fact, a ZANU PF member, saying the ruling party should just desist from harassing CCC members and Ali’s family at the funeral.

“This is patently false. She is a CCC member and that very claim is undue attempt to politicise the matter,” she said.

Political analyst, Munjodzi Mutandiri said Zimbabweans should put human life ahead of their political differences,  saying the responses by those in government, particularly the police; and ZANU PF leadership were a disgrace and display of catastrophic leadership failure.

“Moreblessing’s story is an indictment of the poverty of policing and regard for human life by those with power in our country. The shameful statement from the police instead of investigating the matter (potentially saving Moblessing’s life) is clearly an indicator of a police force that has been captured by political elites,” he said.

Mutandiri said as the country entered the election campaign season,  it was important that the perpetrators of this heinous act face the full might of the law, adding all the facts in the matter, particularly the people involved,  pointed  to a case of political violence.

“It is now the duty of the police to speed investigations and unearth the motive. In the absence of a thorough investigation and arrest of the perpetrators, a reminder of the 2008 dark days and the impunity that followed is inevitable. In Zimbabwe if the case is not political the police are swift to act. It is critical that human rights Defenders and opposition political parties (especially CCC as she was a member of the party) demand of their government justice for Moreblessing,” he said.

Another political analyst, Gift Gwindingwe, said the issue should be looked at from two fronts.

“To say Moreblessing Ali’s death is politically instigated might be misleading public opinion of deaths that are a result of misunderstandings between or amongst individuals. People quarrel and if the quarrel degenerates into a physical fight then a saddening tragedy like Ali’s demise might occur. We do not condone that. So in a case where a misunderstanding arose in public view and an altercation was witnessed, I think it’s improper to bring in political differences. That’s going too far with politics. Actually, stooping unnecessarily low. Violence is condemned in totality though,” he said.

He noted that falsehoods were spreading like veld fire on political arenas more than they were spread on social media platforms.

“Authenticity of one’s political orientation, especially in cases where individuals like Moreblessing Ali went with their stories, is difficult to ascertain. Why, if all things are equal, should political leadership claim members, especially in tragic circumstances like these? For how long should a political organization’s mileage be enhanced by others’ suffering? “He said.

He said politicians should leave the bereaved family to come to terms with the tragic demise of their beloved one, adding that outsiders should not cry more than the bereaved.

In a statement titled “Reclaiming the sanctity of life – ZCC Pastoral letter on the murder of Moreblessing Ali’, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) expressed concern that  the nation had seen an increase in cases of murder and loss of lives of Zimbabweans in cold blood in the first half of this year.

It said although not all the murders were politically motivated, the church was worried that there were so many murders just some few months before a potentially violent 2023 election environment.

“The church calls upon the government, political parties, and community leaders at all levels of society to desist from instigating violence in their public or private utterances but rather to promote peace and tolerance among their constituencies,” it said.

The ZCC pleaded with the Zimbabwe Republic Police to handle cases of human disappearances, distress calls and cases of violent conflict with a sense of urgency and in ways that did not compromise the dignity of victims.

“The church also calls upon the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission and other peace-building organizations to upscale their work across different sectors of society towards the establishment of a new culture of non-violence,”

It said all state and non-state institutions and citizens should work towards a renewed sense of the dignity of all persons, adding there should be a new national commitment that no one should spill the blood of a fellow Zimbabwean.

“The church is calling on the nation to reclaim the sanctity of all human lives,” it said. The ZCC admitted that the church had been indifferent and lukewarm in its approach in addressing the history of shedding of blood in Zimbabwe, noting that by failing to express its moral outrage regarding loss of lives, the church had passively condoned this sin by omission and contributed to the blunting of the national conscience

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