An opposition activist in Zimbabwe has been found dead after being abducted while campaigning ahead of by-elections, his party announced on Monday.
This is the third incident in recent weeks denounced by the Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC), the country’s largest opposition group, which accuses the ruling Zanu-PF party of conducting a vast campaign of intimidation against its supporters.
At the end of October and beginning of November, the CCC announced that one of its MPs and a former MP had been kidnapped in Harare, tortured and then found naked and wounded in the case of the former, and with his head shaved in the case of the latter.
The CCC said on Monday that the body of Tapfumanei Masaya, kidnapped in broad daylight by armed men last Saturday in Harare, had been found on the outskirts of the capital.
“We call on the police to investigate this heinous crime and bring the perpetrators to justice”, the party said on X (formerly Twitter).
The police confirmed that a body had been found without confirming its identity, which they said had yet to be established.
Contested elections in August returned President Emmerson Mnangagwa to power.
Parliament has since declared vacant the seats of 15 elected CCC MPs, who denounced the decision as “fraudulent”, and by-elections are scheduled for December to fill them.
Tapfumanei Masaya was campaigning for a CCC candidate in Mabvuku, a suburb of Harare, when he was forced into a vehicle, according to his party.
The “illegal” and “fraudulent” cancellation of the elections for our MPs “led to (his) death”, the CCC wrote on social networks. In August, CCC leader Nelson Chamisa, 45, was defeated by President Mnangagwa, 81, in general elections that also gave Zanu-PF a majority in parliament.
According to international observers, these elections failed to meet democratic standards. The forthcoming by-elections could hand Zanu-PF, which has been in power since independence in 1980, a two-thirds majority in parliament, which is needed to amend the Constitution.
According to some analysts, Zanu-PF could take advantage of this to allow Mr Mnangagwa, who came to power after a coup that overthrew President Robert Mugabe in 2017, to remain in power beyond 2028.