The visit to Zimbabwe by UN Special Rapporteur Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, has coincided with the abduction of a government doctor Peter Magombeyi, who is leader of Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA).
Magombeyi, who had organized a series of protests to demand reasonable salaries for government doctors, received a threatening text message before his disappearance last Saturday. A government doctor earns an equivalent of US$100 a month, amid skyrocketing prices of basic goods.
High-profile abductions particularly those with a political trail are endemic in Zimbabwe and this year alone, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has confirmed more than 50 cases of kidnappings of activists and critics of the ZANU-PF government. Among the latest victims is comedian and government critic Samantha Kureya, who was abducted by six masked gunmen. The popular comedian was severely beaten before she was forced to drink raw sewage. However, no arrests have been made.
Voule, a Togolese national, is expected to meet with government officials, civil society and independent institutions, the judiciary and legislature, and will travel to Bulawayo, the country’s second-largest city and capital of the 1980s Gukurahundi massacres, as well as communities that bore the brunt of a bloody diamond-conflict, Mutare and Marange.
The rapporteur told reporters that his 10-day visit is a key opportunity to learn first-hand about laws, policies and national realities in relation to the rights toward peaceful assembly and association, especially in regard to the 2013 Constitution.
Meanwhile, president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who promised political dispensation after the overthrow of veteran dictator Robert Mugabe in 2017, left the country for the 74th United Nations General Assembly in New York.
In his nation address before his departure, Mnangagwa — a former right-hand man of Mugabe for 37 years who has attracted criticism at home and abroad for his extravagant foreign trips — expressed dismay at the latest industrial action by doctors and nurses, demanding the release of Magombeyi.