"I went to hell and back" – Mukoko

Mukoko told more than 200 women gathered in Harare for their conference on what they want included in the new constitution that she had been tortured and had been made to do inhumane things.

“I went to hell and back,” an emotional Mukoko said. “What I need and want right now is peace. We need a clear guideline about the constitution and that there should be no violence.”

Mukoko is now Executive Director of the Zimbabwe Women organisation which fights for women issues.

She is a journalist having worked for the state broadcaster, ZBC.

Mukoko was abducted and disappeared for about three months before being released by the State security agents.She came out of prison bruised, battered and with a swollen face but the ZRP denied that they had done anything to her.

They said she was fabricating stories and telling lies about President Robert Mugabe to the international community.

Meanwhile Women’s Affairs Minister, Olivia Muchena also told the same meeting that she and her deputy, Evelyn Masaiti, were being threatened by members of parliament not to work together because they belong to different political parties.

“We have been threatened by our fellow MPs,” Muchena said. “We try our best to work for the betterment of women but some say we must just stick to our political parties.”

She said the two were very worried about the threats and had told President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, who said they must work on and not worry.

Masaiti belongs to the Tsvangirai led Movement of Democratic Change while Muchena is a Zanu (PF) MP. The two however, represent women on issues dealing with the proposed new constitution of Zimbabwe.

“This is not good at all,” Muchena, flanked by Masaiti, said in Harare. “We are very frightened and worried.”

An international human rights campaigner and former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, also told the same meeting that she had been summoned by President Robert Mugabe and asked her why she raised issues pertaining to Zimbabwe’s human rights record yet she is on a goodwill trip.

Robinson, who is now working for the United Nations, told invited guets that she was now very worried that Mugabe had taken the issue personally.

Robinson said: “What I said when I addressed the meeting with women was true. There are a lot of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and the GPA (Global Political Agreement) has not been adhered to. Unless the GPA issues are adhered to donors will be very unwilling to help Zimbabwe.”

President Mugabe took offence at the statements and accused Robinson of listening to IMF and World Bank officials accompanying her on the trip.

Robinson was on a three day working visit to Zimbabwe and left the country on Friday. She was invited by the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe.

President Mugabe addressed the women on Monday and said she supported them all the way for a better constitution.