Military takes over Zim hospitals as doctors strike over 'abduction'
In a bid to contain a crippling doctors’ strike in Zimbabwe, the country's government has deployed doctors from the military to state hospitals.
Doctors went on strike on Tuesday after one of their own, union leader Peter Magombeyi, was allegedly abducted by state security agents.
Despite calls for information on his whereabouts and doctors' declaration that they would not return to work until he is found, no headway has been made.
During a press briefing on Tuesday evening, health minister Obadiah Moyo said military doctors would provide services at public facilities as a “temporary measure”.
At the same briefing, information minister Kazembe Kazembe said there were no signs that Magombeyi had been abducted and this case would therefore be treated as a “disappearance”.
State security minister Owen Ncube said that despite telling his officers to approach the case with “an open mind”, they should check if a “third force” is involved.
“I have instructed security forces to investigate whether or not a third force is involved,” he said.
A “third force” in corridors of Zimbabwean politics refers to elements suspected to be linked to the late former president Robert Mugabe and who intend to destabilise the regime of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Abductions are not new in Zimbabwe’s violent socio-political history. Some of the most notable kidnappings include the following:
- Nationalist Edson Sithole and his secretary Miriam Mhlanga, who were taken into a car in October 15 1975 and never seen again;
- Edwin Nleya, a captain in the army, who disappeared without a trace in 1989 from the infantry battalion in Hwange after threatening to expose army bosses involved in poaching and ivory trade. His decomposing body was found two months later;
- Rashiwe Guzha, a secretary at the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), who went missing in May 1990. She was declared dead but her remains were never found;
- Patrick Nabanyama, then a polling agent for David Coltart in the June 2000 parliamentary election, who was abducted on June 19 2000. He was never found and on August 11 2010 he was legally declared dead;
- Former journalist Jestina Mukoko, then a human rights activist and director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, who was abducted on December 3 2008 for allegedly being involved in planing anti-government demonstrations that day; and
- Journalist turned activist Itai Dzamara, who was kidnapped on March 9 2015. He is yet to be found or declared dead.