By Tichaona Sibanda
10 August 2012
The MDC-T in Manicaland is investigating the disappearance of some of its members from Makoni North, who are feared to have been kidnapped and detained by the army at its 3 Brigade Headquarters in Mutare.
They were in a Kombi that was forced to drive into the army base in Mutare on Wednesday, because passengers spoke critically about the way soldiers, police and the CIO hijacked the population census exercise.
The Kombi was travelling from Rusape to Mutare when one of the passengers, a soldier, became incensed when other passengers started discussing the census that has been turned into such a fiasco by the security forces.
When the Kombi got to Mutare, the soldier identified himself and told the driver to go to the 3 Brigade Headquarters in the city. Unknown to the army, a number of passengers were senior MDC-T officials from Makoni district who immediately sent out text messages to the party of their predicament.
One of those who received a text was Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma, who alerted the party spokesman in Manicaland, Pishai Muchauraya.
Mangoma, who is the MDC-T MP for Makoni North, told us that after spending some time at the camp all the passengers were freed after interrogation. But it has turned out that Mangoma may well have been deceived into believing that all the passengers were released.
A close family member of the Minister, believed to be his young brother, plus Clive Zimuto, a senior figure in Mangoma’s Makoni North constituency, have not been seen or heard from since Wednesday, according to provincial spokesman Pishai Muchauraya.
‘What we have gathered at this moment is that when our members purportedly texted Mangoma to say they had been released, none of them used their mobile numbers. It was from a number that none of us recognize and that line went dead since Wednesday.
‘This is a mystery to us and their disappearance is very out of character. Both their families and us as a party are very concerned, and ask for the help of the public in tracing them. What we suspect now is these people are still being detained at the 3 Brigade,’ Muchauraya said.
The MP told SW Radio Africa that since the military base was out of bounds to civilians, they were going to have to engage lawyers on Monday to force the army to release them
‘It’s always difficult dealing with the army but we are going to force them to surrender these people through the courts,’ Muchauraya added.