Entire MDC leadership goes into hiding

HARARE – The entire leadership of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has gone into hiding following well coordinated abductions and disappearances of its supporters and human rights activists by hired foreign mercenaries from as far as Angola and the Great Lakes region, The Zimbabwe Mail can reveal.

An operation code named “operation ngatipedzenavo” (Operation lets finish them up), was recently launched by Robert Mugabe’s hardline party functionaries to destroy the leadership structures of the opposition.

This latest move now threatens the peace deal signed by Robert Mugabe and opposition leaders on 15 September this year and it is now feared that most elected opposition Members of Parliament might fled the country into exile, leaving the much awaited constitutional amendment in jeopardy.

The MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai has decided to stay abroad for fear of his life.

The Zimbabwe Mail can reveal that Zanu PF is now running a secret hit squad with recruits from Angola and battle hardened war criminals from the Great lakes region.

"These Mercenaries have been recruited from a number of countries in the region and they’re doing the dirty work for CIO,” our intelligence source revealed.

It is believed that the mercenaries are reporting directly to Emmerson Munangagwa throught former Rwandan Presidential Guard commander Protais Mpiranya and Mnangagwa is the Chairman of JOC (Joint Operation Command). 

The operation is also receiving direct funding from the Reserve Bank.

Protais Mpiranya, the former head of the presidential guard during the 1994 genocide is on the wanted list of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, but he has since settled in Zimbabwe for close to 10 years and he is running Robert Mugabe’s close protection unit in the Presidential Guard together with the Libyan and Pakistan nationals.

Mapiranya is also suspected to have strong business links with Zimbabwe’s second most powerful politician Emmerson Mnangagwa and senior Zimbabwe army officers.

He used to operate Ze’ntemba rumba Night Club at the Kopje Plaza in Harare a few years ago.

An MDC official in hiding said, “the foreigners have been identified by our intelligence unit on many occasions supporting government-backed men”.

"We have observed that some of the people leading the abductions are foreigners because they speak a different language and they do not understand our local languages”, he said.

"Also the tactics they are using are not peculiar with Zimbabweans because they are cutting out the tongue, removing eyes and genital parts. We are not sure where they come from, but we know some them speak in Portuguese, according to our intelligence information. Robert Mugabe’s CIO are brutal, but this new trend is very much worrying, said the MDC official.

"They are cruel and brutal. Each unit has an interpreter who tells them what to do and we fear for those who have been abducted so far.

"The mercenaries are operating from CIO offices in Highlands, along Enterprises road and they have bases in and around Harare and some have been deployed across the country, but they are mainly concentrated in Harare.

A Central Intelligence Oroganisation (CIO) mole took us in a drive-by, and showed our reporter houses in Belvedere and in Malbereighn which are housing these murderous criminals.

They have also been deployed to Chiyadzwa diamond area in Manicaland where they have killed so many people in a callous bloody operation.

Suspected state agents have abducted an official from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, bringing to at least 19 the number of MDC supporters and civil society activists to have been whisked away without trace in recent weeks, according to an MDC official.

Gandhi Mudzingwa, a former personal assistant to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who was working on the party’s transition policy, was seized by a group of armed men while driving in Harare on Monday, George Sibotshiwe, a spokesperson for Tsvangirai, said on Tuesday.

The MDC suspects his abductors were members of the feared Central Intelligence Organisation, which is also suspected of the abduction last week of prominent activist Jestina Mukoko.

Mukoko, director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), was taken from her home by a dozen armed men. Her whereabouts are unknown. Two other members of the ZPP have since also been abducted.

Meanwhile, a group of 15 MDC members who were detained by police a month ago in Mashonaland West province are also still missing, despite a court order that they be brought to court or released.

The disappearances are part of a new crackdown by President Robert Mugabe’s regime against the opposition that began after talks between his Zanu-PF party and the MDC on the formation of a unity government.

Some analysts believe Mugabe may again be trying to "soften up" the opposition in advance of possible fresh elections. "That’s a definite possibility," said Brian Raftopoulos, director of research and advocacy for the Solidarity Peace Trust, a South Africa-based NGO that campaigns for freedom and democracy in Zimbabwe.

"There was always speculation that if the mediation stalled, Mugabe would hammer structures in the country and call new elections," Raftopoulos said.

Mugabe himself last week told a group of supporters to be ready for new elections.

It is unclear how such a move, which the MDC would likely oppose, would resolve Mugabe’s legitimacy issues. His re-election as president in an unopposed, violent vote in June was dismissed by the international community as a sham