Suspected Political Murder Most Foul in Mwenezi

By Sij Ncube

MASVINGO, JUNE 25, 2015 – IN a bizarre murder case which has left the community of Mwenezi shell-shocked, a popular MDC T activist has been found killed with his hands and legs amputated in what a human rights watch-dog says is a suspected political killing.

In its latest alert on Thursday, the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) reported the murder of Kenneth Chiguruguru Chikwerengwe (70) in Negari area, Ward 2, Mwenezi East constituency in Masvingo.  

While the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) spokesperson Charity Charamba could not immediately confirm the case Thursday, the ZPP said in its alert, Chikwerengwe is believed to have been killed by unknown assailants on June 19 although his body was only found on June 21 inside his hut by a relative.  

“His body was brutalised and his hands and legs cut. One of his homestead huts was burnt the same night. The murder is suspected to be politically motivated as investigations are proceeding. Kenneth was an outspoken activist and was the MDC-T treasurer for Mwenezi district and he contested in the 2008 as a councillor,” reads part of the alert.

Family members, according to ZPP, alleged the late activist had earlier received an anonymous call from people who claimed to be state security agents that allegedly complained bitterly that his last born son was always seen wearing MDC-T regalia.

Chikwerengwe is a previous victim of political violence as he was allegedly brutalised in the run-up to the 2008 polls.

The murder is being investigated by Mashava and Mwenezi police but ZPP said a post mortem has been performed. However, the results have not been made public.

Critics say the latest political killing confirms the country is still polarised.

The latest murder of the MDC-T activists comes hard on the heels of a May ZPP report on the recently held June 10 by-elections which reveals that ZANU PF supporters have become the new targets of political violence due to factional fights in President Robert Mugabe’s party.

“A new phenomenon is noticed in which the majority of the victims of violence are ZANU PF,” reads part of the report released on Monday.

“Traditionally, the majority of victims have been from the opposition MDC-T but with the increasing intra party conflict in ZANU PF a reversal in this trend is noticed. “

The majority of the perpetrators and victims of violence were men; a trend ZPP says reflects the masculine nature of Zimbabwean political contestations, which are still dominated by men.

“It has to be noted that there are more victims than perpetrators of violence who are women. This indicates how women are targeted in political violence as activists in their own right and as relatives of male activists.”

Most of the violence in the run-up to the June 10 polls happened in Hurungwe West where former legislator of the area Temba Mliswa faced his nemesis Keith Guzha after his expulsion from ZANU PF.

In the run-up to the polls, ZANU PF left no stone unturned in desperate attempts to retain the seat after Mliswa, together with other perceived allies of former vice president Joice Mujuru, were purged from the party.

The state security agents, youths and the top leadership of ZANU PF, among them the two vice presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mpoko, were deployed to campaign for Guzha while Mliswa was arrested more than five times in the run-up to the polls. 

According to ZPP, the total number of violations recorded in May was 216, a figure the human rights watch-dog, says is in the same range with the 224 cases recorded in April.

“Mashonaland West had the highest number of violations with 44 cases reported in May alone representing 20% of the total cases. These statistics are in tandem with the general trend of violence recorded in the province with the majority of such cases emanating from the volatile Hurungwe West constituency.”