By Staff Reporter
LOCAL political parties, civic groups and churches have roundly condemned the arrest, detention and torture of eight Mthwakazi youths by the state apparatus for demonstrating against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s alleged involvement in the killing of an estimated 20,000 civilians in Matebeleland and Midlands soon after independence.
The Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) youths were seized by police and army officials from a Bulawayo church gathering at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair complex on Sunday.
They were detained at an army barracks, One Brigade Headquarters, before they were taken to the police with reports of having suffered severe fractures.
Attempts were still being made to secure their release.
The church ceremony, graced by Mnangagwa, had been called to by local cleric Andrew Wutawunashe ostensibly to thank the new leader for guiding the country though a peaceful transition from former President Robert Mugabe’s unpopular rule in November last year.
MRP said in a statement that the beating of “innocent people just conveying their message constitutionally” was shocking and was proof Mnangagwa is unrepentant.
“Mnangagwa can even kill us for all he likes but we will never recognise him as our president and he is the source of our problems as Mthwakazi people, we are the survivors of Gukurahundi genocide, we are poor today because of him and his people,” said the party.
Zapu spokesperson Iphithule kaMaphosa said the heavy handed action “only works to defeat in all intents, the everyday rhetoric on reform and constitutionalism by President Mnangagwa”.
Mnangagwa has been preaching positive departure from Mugabe’s brutal regime which was characterised by excessive rights abuses.
Firebrand protest group, Tajamuka/Sesijikile also said “the President’s reckless response to people’s demand for healing and justice is worrying and shocking”.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition spokesperson Tabani Moyo said the “actions of the army and police under instruction from the state which continues to pay lip-service to the Gukurahundi massacres are deplorable and a grave concern for the justice order in Zimbabwe”.
Father Augustine Dizara, director with the Ecumenical Forum for Dialogue, Justice and Peace also condemned the “arbitrary arrest and unconstitutional detention” of the youths.
“The arrest and detention of people expressing their mind and emotions over a public atrocity that has been constantly given scant attention dampens the spirits of Zimbabweans who made the Long March from Zimbabwe Grounds to State House and harshly reminds us of the previous cruel dispensation under Mugabe’s rule.
“The people of Zimbabwe were beginning to think the post-Mugabe era would provide a new spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation.”
Since the arrests, government is yet to issue an official statement on the arrests.