Harare – An opposition lawmaker in Zimbabwe was kidnapped, tortured and dumped naked on a sideroad on Wednesday, his party said, as political tensions in the country show no sign of abating after a disputed election.
Takudzwa Ngadziore, 25, was seized by armed men near his home in the capital, Harare, as he was heading to parliament in the morning, according to the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).
Ngadziore, Zimbabwe’s youngest MP, managed to live stream the moments before his alleged abduction on social media.
In the short clip, the distressed, tie-wearing politician is seen looking into the camera saying “I’m being followed” in the local Shona language, before showing a Kalashnikov-wielding man in a black cap running towards him.
URGENT: 📹 This is the shocking moment Zimbabwe’s youngest MP Takudzwa Ngadziore was abducted by men armed with AK47s in Harare this morning. His Citizens Coalition for Change party says it has not been able to contact him since he recorded this live video on Facebook pic.twitter.com/vShWh4g15f
— ZimLive (@zimlive) November 1, 2023
Ngadziore was found hours later naked, his body covered by cuts, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) away near the small town of Mazowe, a friend who went to pick him up and asked to remain anonymous told AFP.
The CCC, the southern African country’s largest opposition party, pointed the finger at the ruling Zanu-PF party, saying the kidnapping came amid a broader campaign of intimidation against its supporters.
Zanu-PF spokesperson Farai Marapira urged authorities “to get to the bottom of the matter” suggesting the abduction might have been “fake”.
Police did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
“The continuous targeting of prominent (CCC members) is designed to instill fear among the generality of the populace,” said party spokesman Promise Mkwananzi.
📺MUST WATCH: Our Member of Parliament and party’s Youth Taskforce coordinator, Hon Takudzwa Ngadziore, recounts his traumatic encounter with the Zimbabwe’s security agents, CIO, this morning. He was forcefully taken by a gang equipped with 6 cars, AK47 guns, tasers, injections,… pic.twitter.com/lES56rpG0B
— Citizens’ Coalition for Change (@CCCZimbabwe) November 1, 2023
Local media and human rights groups said the kidnappers appeared to be members of Zimbabwe’s security forces.
It was the second such incident in as many weeks.
Last week, former CCC MP James Chidhakwa was also allegedly kidnapped and tortured before being found hours later on the outskirts of Harare, with his head shaved.
“The Zimbabwean state has turned rogue,” said Obert Masaraure, a spokesman for the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, an umbrella organisation bringing together more than 80 human rights and civil society groups.
CCC leader Nelson Chamisa, 45, lost a presidential vote to incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa, 81, in an August general election that also gave Zanu-PF a majority in parliament but international observers said fell short of democratic standards.
The CCC says more than a dozen people affiliated with it have since been arrested on spurious charges.
Another 15 lawmakers have lost their seats in Kafkaesque fashion after what they said is an impostor posing as a party official recalled them – and parliament went along with it.
The move triggered by-elections to be held in December that could hand Zanu-PF, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, a two-thirds majority needed to amend the constitution.
The CCC has called on the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a regional grouping to mediate a way out of the political crisis.
Zimbabwe is among the topics that are expected to be discussed at a SADC extraordinary summit on Saturday — but analysts are sceptical any meaningful action will follow.
“We believe this is an act to try and keep Zimbabwe sullied and in the international spotlight ahead of the SADC meeting,” Marapira of Zanu-PF said of Ngadziore’s kidnapping.
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