Zanu’s SA torturer

2008-07-11 00:00

Johannesburg — A senior Zanu-PF politburo official implicated in torture, kidnapping and a secret plan to harass and drive out opposition supporters is a South African citizen.

This is despite the fact that dual citizenship is outlawed by the Zimbabwean constitution.

Joshua Teke Malinga (64), a former senator and mayor of Bulawayo, is a member of President Robert Mugabe’s inner circle and has been accused of establishing a “torture centre” near the Bulawayo central police station.

He also is accused of being one of the authors of a document setting out “covert operations to decompose [sic] the opposition”.

The “action plan” called for supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change to be harassed and driven out of Zanu-PF strongholds.

Other ideas included writing threatening letters to “resettled” farmers purporting to come from the MDC and “harassing” them in MDC T-shirts so they would vote to defend their land.

South Africa, however, would have no jurisdiction to act against Malinga — who, like dozens of other senior Zanu-PF officials, has business ties to SA and owns property here — for crimes committed in Zimbabwe.

The wheelchair-bound Malinga, who owns property in Hillbrow, was until recently a director of the Secretariat of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities, a Cape Town-based organisation that champions the rights of the disabled.

After queries, however, the organisation announced that Malinga has been booted off the board.

The Home Affairs Department has confirmed that Malinga, who is on international sanctions lists in Europe, the U.S. and Australia, is a South African citizen by birth and is listed on the Population Register.

In March, SW Radio Africa, which broadcasts to Zimbabwe from London, reported that Malinga “is thought to have sanctioned two separate abductions of MDC activists”.

Last month, the Zimbabwean newspaper reported that Malinga had established a “torture centre” in Bulawayo where “several MDC members have been kidnapped and taken there to be tortured”.

Malinga denied the charges, saying the “centre” is merely a “temporary” Zanu-PF office.

Malinga did not respond to e-mail questions sent to him.

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