President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been petitioned to recall former Deputy Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Energy Mutodi over defamatory speech against three female members of the opposition MDC who had been abducted by suspected state security agents.
The petition comes when Mnangagwa has already dismissed Mutodi as the Deputy Minister. We present the petition in full below.
Petition to: Mr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, the President of Zimbabwe
CC: Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU PF) The Parliament of Zimbabwe International Parliamentary Union (1PU)
SUBJECT: RECALL OF MR ENERGY MUTODI FROM PARLIAMENT AND PROHIBITION OF ANY FUTURE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYMENT/PUBLIC SERVICE, CONSEQUENT TO PUBLIC DENIALIST AND DEFAMATORY COMMUNICATIONS FOLLOWING HUMAN RIGHT VIOLATIONS AGAINST WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS AND ACTIVISTS.
WE, the undersigned organisations and individuals,
*With continued concern* around the recent abduction. sexual abuse and torture of three young women leaders namely Hon Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Nctsai Marova by suspected State agents
*Worried* by defamation of character performed by former Deputy Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services and sitting Member of Parliament (MP) for Goromonzi West, Mr Energy Mutodi, upon the three women leaders in a tweet alleging the three are sex workers and were engaged in sex work at the time of their torture.
*Dismayed* by denial of torture and terror. including sexual abuse against Zimbabwean women by high ranking Government officials.
*Determined* to ensure justice for female victims of enforced disappearance. torture and rape,
Make this petition to the Mr E.D Mnangagwa. President of Zimbabwe.
Our Issues: 1. We submit that on the 13, of May 2020, around 2 pm, three young women leaders namely Hon Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova were abducted. tortured and sexually abused by suspected State security agents. The three were intercepted at a police roadblock manned by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe National Army in Harare. They were informed that they had been arrested for taking part in a peaceful flash demonstration in Warren Park. Harare. According to them. they were taken to Harare Central Police Station but before they could be formally charged, they were taken to an undisclosed destination where they were subjected to intense torture and degrading treatment. The three suffered horrific sexual abuse including their breast being sucked and guns inserted in their anal passage. They were also made to sing, march and dance non-stop for more than 24 hours. They were also assaulted all over their bodies with iron rods. The activists were forced to drink each other’s urine and to eat human excreta. The perpetrators also cut them on their backs using razor blades as part of the torture process. The leaders were later dumped near Bindura around 9 pm on the 14th of May 2020. They were finally rescued around 2 am on the 15 of May 2020 by a team of family members and lawyers.
2. We submit that on the 20th of May 2020 at 1414hrs, former deputy Minister Mutodi tweeted to his 45 900 followers:
‘Details emerge MDC youths Joana Mamombe, Netsai Marova and Cecilia Chimbiri went out for a romantic night in Bindura with their lovers who are artisanal miners. They parked their car at a police station for safety but tragedy struck when they demanded foreign currency for services’. (he has since deleted the tweet but we had already taken screenshots).
3. His tweet was untruthful, defamatory and denies that indeed the rights of the three women leaders were violated by suspected State security agents. His unwarranted and unacceptable comments come against a backdrop of systematic attacks on women human rights defenders, activists and women in general by suspected State security agents in the past two years, often of a sexual nature and also often involving acts which are intended to erode the dignity of the women concerned. It comes in the wake of many other attempts to shame the above mentioned three leaders through similar denialist narratives made by high ranking government officials and other government apologists and through posting of the women’s semi-nude photographs on social media by a member of the Zimbabwe Republican police. Other high-ranking government officials who have explicitly or implicitly denied the torture and sexual violation and denigrated the women in the process are Mr. Nick Mangwana, (Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information. Publicity and Broadcasting Services), Mr. George Charamba. (Deputy Chief Secretary for Presidential Communications), Mr. Kazembe Kazembe (Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage), and Mr. Ziyambi Ziyambi (Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs).
4. The Government of Zimbabwe has not publicly censured Mr Mutodi for his tweet. It is not clear whether his sacking from the ministerial position was a direct result of his derogatory and demeaning statement on the women leaders or its something else.
5. The State has a constitutional duty to protect its citizens from torture and outrages upon personal dignity, including humiliating and degrading treatment, and is expected to take action against torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Mr Mutodi’s remarks actively encourage denial of the acts of torture and degrading treatment perpetrated against the three women leaders thus perpetuating a culture of impunity. The tweet further acts as reinforcement of torture and outrages against personal dignity by Government officials. Moreover, coming from a person who at the time was a Deputy Minister of Information, and who continues to represent Goromonzi West in parliament. His remarks constitute grave misinformation to Zimbabwean nation and the global public in general concerning a high-profile matter that is under investigation.
6. Such uncensored high-level denial of serious violations against women by Government officials, addition to the violations themselves scare away women from freely. actively and fully participating in political leadership and decision-making processes. Women participation in leadership is still very low with an average 15% of women occupying leadership positions nationally. Under such circumstance, the achievement of gender equality as espoused by the Zimbabwean constitution in section 17, 56 and 80 and UN SDG5 remains a pipeline dream.
Our Demands, We the petitioners demand the following:
1. That ZANU PF recall Mr. Energy Mutodi from Parliament forthwith.
2. That the Government of Zimbabwe prohibit Mr. Energy Mutodi from any other national or government employment or posting or representation in Zimbabwe or beyond Zimbabwe, borders in perpetuity.
3. That legislation is drafted making revictimintion of victims of state sponsored torture an offence.
4. Justice for the victims of State security brutality including the arrest of all perpetrators, provision of reparation and compensation for the victims by the Government.
WE your petitioners pray that you will undertake our detnands.
1) Women’s Academy For Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE)
2) WELEAD Trust
3) Economic Justice For Women Project (EAT)
4) Female Prisoners Support Trust (FEMPRLS,
5) Imba Mukadzi Umuzi Ngumama Trust (1MUNT)
6) African Women Filmuaers Hub (AWFH)
7) Rural Young Women Support Network (RYWSN)