Zimbabwean doctors' labour leader 'kidnapped' by security forces - union

2019-09-16 12:59
Troops and police were out in force in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo to prevent a planned opposition march, days after brutally dispersing a similar banned protest in Harare. (Zinyange Auntony, AFP)

Troops and police were out in force in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo to prevent a planned opposition march, days after brutally dispersing a similar banned protest in Harare. (Zinyange Auntony, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Union activists and rights campaigners on Sunday accused Zimbabwe's security forces of kidnapping the leader of a doctors' union, who disappeared during a strike he had helped organise.

The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctor's Association (ZHDA) said Peter Magombeyi had not been heard from since he sent a WhatsApp message on Saturday night, saying he had been "kidnapped by three men".

The ZHDA accused the security forces of abducting him because of his role in organising the work stoppages.

A few dozen doctors and nurses, who are paid less than $200 a month, marched on Sunday in Harare to protest his disappearance.

Slogans on the improvised placards included "Free Dr Magombeyi unharmed now" and "No Dr Peter, no work: simple".

Zimbabwean police said in a statement that they were investigating the matter, but also cautioned against making kidnap allegations to damage the country's image.

"The possibility of a third force being involved in the alleged abductions for political expedience and to sustain the human rights abuse narrative ahead of the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly cannot be ruled out."

The UN General Assembly meets in New York this week.

Striking doctors are demanding pay rises in a country still struggling with high inflation and fuel and food shortages after decades of economic crisis under former president Robert Mugabe, who died a week ago.

Threatening calls

"Efforts to reach him after he had sent the alarming message have been fruitless," the ZHDA said in a statement, calling for his release and for medics to protest.

Before he disappeared, Magombeyi had said he had received threatening calls and messages on his phone.

Zimbabwe Human Rights Lawyers association called for his release.

"Expressing their concerns on poor working conditions is a right not a privilege," it said.

Zimbabwe's once-vaunted public health system has deteriorated after years of neglect under the Mugabe regime, and doctors complain about lack of supplies and poor conditions.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was elected to replace Mugabe after he was ousted in 2017, has been under pressure to deliver on promises of more investment and jobs.

A measure to double fuel prices this year sparked nationwide protests, prompting a crackdown on the opposition and clashes in which 17 people were killed when soldiers opened fire.

Read more on:    zimbabwe  |  southern africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.