It is with deep anguish and disappointment that we are learning of the abduction and torture of Mrs Hilda Mahiya (mother to Rashid Mahiya) and Pastor Douglas Mahiya (Celebration Churches International – brother to Rashid Mahiya) on 18 January 2019 by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe National Army. We are fully aware that the Zimbabwe security forces are meting out such unlawful and vile attacks on the Mahiya family because they are looking for Mr. Rashid Mahiya, the Director of a civil society organisation – Heal Zimbabwe Trust and also the current Chairperson of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a coalition of Zimbabwean civic organisations working on democracy and governance in the country. The state security apparatus are looking for Mr Mahiya to answer to unfounded allegations of attempting to overthrow the Government.
We are adamant that the ZANU PF Government and its security forces are mistaken as there is no basis whatsoever to be torturing Pastor Douglas Mahiya as well as holding his mother to ransom as well as having her witness the torture of her own son. The two, stand accused of hiding and refusing to reveal the whereabouts of their son and brother, Mr. Rashid Mahiya. Reportedly, Rashid Mahiya is wanted by the police and army for allegedly supporting the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union stay away that happened between the 14th – 17th of January 2019 in Zimbabwe. Several state media outlets reports continue to link Mr. Rashid Mahiya to an alleged “Wildgeese Declaration” that took place between the 3rd and 7th of December 2018 at the Wildgeese Hotel in Harare, a meeting which they claim was convened to organise how to overthrow the Government. This allegation is outrageous and completely false.
What is true and can be confirmed by those who were invited to attend as well as those hired by the ZANU PF government to spy and give false reports on the so called “Wildgeese” meeting is that the meeting was convened solely to discuss the role civil society can play in promoting peace, reconciliation and social cohesion in the country. Several reports from the state television ZTV and newspaper, the “Herald” sensationally try unconvincingly to lie that there were “foreign agents” who descended on Zimbabwe to train civil society organisations on regime change. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are aware that these false reports by the different state newspapers alleging that Mr. Rashid Mahiya organised this meeting are false. However, we are convinced without doubt that the stubbornness with which these stories have been run point to an ulterior by the Government of Zimbabwe. All we ask for is that reason must prevail.
We can confirm without fear that the international organisation that came to Zimbabwe to carry out the peacebuilding training is called Interpeace- an international NGO working on peace and reconciliation all over the world. The Interpeace group has been in and out of Zimbabwe on several occasions in the whole of 2018 and have met with a number of Government Institutions including officials from the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission at their offices in Harare; the former Advisor on Peace and Reconciliation, Mr. Clever Nyathi who has since left for Lesotho; the full house of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Youth Committee among other Government institutions. It is deeply saddening to note that these meetings are never the subject of any false reporting by the state newspapers as well as the Minister of Information’s ratchet allegations. The records of Interpeace personnel are available on the internet as well as their offices. We do not see or understand the value the Government of Zimbabwe will obtain by continuously smearing their images in the state run “Herald” in this manner. Indeed, we find it shameful.
It is not disputed as well that the same group from Interpeace also met with several civil society organisations from across the country in Zimbabwe over the one – year period (2018) as they sought to engage the Zimbabwean population on the best ways to engage the state, civil society and the people on grassroots ways to foster peace and reconciliation in Zimbabwe. The group also consulted with several United Nations missions in Zimbabwe including the United Nations Development Fund. We are well aware of these machinations by the state machinery in Zimbabwe to tarnish the image of Interpeace as well as civil society organisations in Zimbabwe. It does not make sense that the Zimbabwe government continues to call for international reengagement as well as propagating a “Zimbabwe is Open for business” stance and yet at the same time is hostile to those same foreigners. The double standards exercised by the ZANU PF regime should be exposed outright for what they are. Foreigners wanting to help Zimbabwe are labelled “friendly investors” when they are bringing monetary aid to Zimbabwe but labelled “foreign treasonous agents” when they talk, preach and lobby for human rights observance by the Zimbabwe Government.
It is equally surprising and shocking to note that the Zimbabwe Government through its chicanery, torturous and paranoid policy of doing business seeks to allege that Heal Zimbabwe Trust, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and by association Mr. Rashid Mahiya received in excess of USD 2 million dollars from Interpeace. If this were true, our argument would be very simple. The Government of Zimbabwe must simply show where this money is and how it is being used, by who, when and for what purposes.
Again, we would like to note that this is at the least laughable and at the most improbable as the Interpeace does not involve itself in grant making of such amounts. We will state categorically that Mr. Rashid Mahiya and the organisations he represents did not receive any such funds from Interpeace. We challenge the Zimbabwe Government to engage Interpeace through its Zimbabwe Foreign Affairs Ministry, its Embassy in Geneva, Switzerland and other law enforcement agencies to verify this if need be.
It is unfortunate and we are aware that the Government of Zimbabwe is facing serious challenges in turning its economy around. The current protests in the form of stay – aways and constant criticism by the public as well as the international community on the state of human rights, the economy and the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe are just a reflection of the failure of the ZANU PF government to deal with the socio – political and economic problems that are engulfing the country. To deflect the peoples’ attention, the Government has tried and dismally failed to apportion blame elsewhere. The latest antics have been to try to pin the blame on Mr. Rashid Mahiya, his Heal Zimbabwe Trust and the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition never held any meeting with its members in 2019. These allegations are just fiction manufactured by a regime clutching onto straws in a raging tide that is Zimbabwe’s teetering political, social and economic mess. Crisis Coalition is convinced that Mr Rashid Mahiya is being persecuted by the state for organising a meeting between civil society leaders and SADC Chairperson and President of Namibia, Hage Geingob which took place in Namibia on the 30th of October 2018. At the meeting, Mr Mahiya urged SADC to intervene in Zimbabwe to end serious social and economic problems, which worsened soon after the 2018 disputed elections.
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition as well as Heal Zimbabwe Trust demand an end to the persecution of Mr. Rashid Mahiya’s family. His mother, Gogo Hilda Mahiya is hypertensive and needs her medication constantly. The torture of a man of the clergy, Pastor Douglas Mahiya by armed members of the Zimbabwe National Army was criminal and barbaric and we demand the apprehension of those who perpetrated such vile acts on his person. Forcing Gogo Hilda Mahiya to witness her son being brutalised by the army was the worst form of torture and this is truly abhorrent and can never be tolerated in a democratic society. It is also our clarion call for the Government to stop the violence, killings, assaults, arbitrary arrests against poor Zimbabweans who are just exercising their democratic right to protest against worsening living conditions. The values of a people, their dignity and conscience are called into question when such callous acts are perpetrated with such impunity.
We reiterate our call that President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, his Vice Presidents General Constantino Guveya Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi need to show leadership at this moment by restoring peace, trust and hope in Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans remain peace loving but will not apologise for calling for good governance and human rights in the country. Zimbabwe belongs to all Zimbabweans, old, young, black, white, rich and poor.