By Sheryleen Masuku
Former British Foreign Minister Lord Peter Hain says ZANU PF is “encouraging Zimbabwean MP Joana Mamombe to die” and has called on the UK government to take urgent action to help her, as her life seems to be at an increased risk, following her removal from hospital last week by Zimbabwe Prison Corrctional Services (ZPCS) authorities to her prison cell at Chikurubi Maximum Prison, without adequate medical treatment.
Lord Hain outlined his concerns on Tuesday this week, in an open letter to the UK’s Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab.
In the letter, which has been published by civil society organisations in the UK, Lord Hain outlines the suffering of Mamombe in the hands of Zimbabwe’s prison officers. Lord Hain is seeking clarity from the UK government on what recent action it has taken to hold the ZANU PF led government to account for the human rights violations that have been inflicted on Mamombe.
“According to newspaper reports the ruling party has once again denied involvement in the latest episode even though of course there can be no other plausible explanation”.
“I am really concerned that they may be encouraging her to die, so urgent action is needed”.
“May I ask what steps HMG is taking to hold the Zimbabwean Government to account for these gross violations of human rights” reads letter.
Lord Hain has raised the question of Mambombe’s case in UK Parliament since May 2020.
He successfully appealed for sanctions to be imposed on ZANU PF’s top government officials whose offices were responsible for gross human rights violations early this year. Lord Hain has consistently expressed his concern for Mamombe and her counterparts appealing to the UK government to ensure that the application by the government of Zimbabwe to re-join the Commonwealth is suspended until allegations of human rights violations are addressed, including clarity on the three MDC Alliance activists case.
Lord Hain is a former anti apartheid activist who has been very critical of President Emmerson Mnangangwa’s government.
Responding to comments on his Twitter account yesterday regarding Mamombe’s forced removal from hospital, Lord Hain said he was very disappointed by the current regime’s oppression of the MDC Alliance activists.
“Terrible oppression: this is not what the liberation struggle I supported against the old racist Rhodesia was meant to deliver for the new Zimbabwe”.
Contacted for comment UK foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, refered questions to the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office in London who indicated that Lord Goldsmith the Environment Minister, reiterated the UK Government’s position on Mamombe’s case yesterday in Parliament.Lord Goldsmith said the UK government was following the case of Mamombe and the two other activsts closely.
“We remain clear that the Government of Zimbabwe must meet its international and domestic obligations by respecting the rule of law, safeguarding human rights, and committing to genuine political and economic reform for the benefit of all Zimbabweans”.
“ Her Majesty’s Government will continue to speak out, both privately and in public, where we have concerns and we will work alongside the international community to support a better future for all Zimbabweans.”
Lord Goldsmith said the British Embassy in Harare has remained in close contact with Mamombe and her lawyers.
Mamombe was arrested in May 2020 together with opposition activists Netsai Marova and Cecilia Chimbiri for violating Covid 19 regulations. The three women made international headlines following reports of an alleged abduction, torture including sexual violence by suspected state security agents.
The three women were arrested for reporting the abduction which the state alleges to have been faked. Mamombe is suing the state for leaking intimate images of herself and her colleagues that were taken while they were in hospital last year, as part of evidence that the three had been tortured and sexually abused. Human rights activists have expressed concern over Mamombe’s removal from hospital last week calling the government vindictive and relentless in its persecution of the MP.
Meanwhile, a video of Mamombe’s forced removal from her hospital bed by prison guards last week has generated international interest from human rights defenders who are calling on the Zimbabwean government to allow the MP to receive medical treatment.
International Commission Jurists ICJ an International human rights organisation comprising of judges and lawyers has called on the Zimbabwean authorities to allow Mamombe to be returned to hospital in order for her to receive essential medical care. In a statement released on Monday this week, ICJ Director Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh said Mamombe’s life was at risk as the authorities had failed her.
“The Zimbabwean prison officials have abandoned their primary obligation to ensure the humane treatment of a person in its custody.”
“They have failed Joana Mamombe in refusing to provide her access to medical care and treatment, and placed her life and well-being in jeopardy”.
Activists have accused the ZANU PF led government of using prolonged pre-trial detention as a weapon to torture opposition leaders and human rights activists in Zimbabwe’s dilapidated prison cells. Mamombe has been denied bail several times. On Wednesday, her lawyers submitted a new bail application.