Farirai Machivenyika, Harare Bureau
Government has warned against the rising incidences of false abductions in the country and is contemplating measures to deal with the threat and punish those responsible.
This was said by President Mnangagwa in his address to the nation last night.
His comments follow the reported abduction of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association acting president Dr Peter Magombeyi last weekend.
The alleged disappearance resulted in health personnel striking, demanding his release, while questions were raised in many quarters on the authenticity of the said abduction, amid indications it could have been staged to tarnish the Government’s image.
Dr Magombeyi was “found” on Thursday night in Nyabira, about 20 kilometres west of Harare.
“While we are happy that a staffer at a local hospital who had been reported missing has now been found unharmed, Government is disturbed by the growing trend of politically motivated false abductions in the country which are calculated to put Government in negative light,” said President Mnangagwa.
“Such political trickery, which in fact amounts to terrorism, will not take our country forward. The State has a responsibility to ensure protection and safety for all citizens. New measures might have to be formulated to deal with this new threat and to severely punish those responsible for such subterfuges.”
President Mnangagwa said Government was disappointed by the health workers’ actions to strike following the alleged abduction, saying this resulted in unnecessary loss of lives.
“Equally, Government was not impressed at all by the way medical staff, as organised labour, responded to this political act of propaganda trickery,” he said.
“Reports on hand indicate innocent lives were gambled with, affected and even lost, as our medical staff who must provide an essential service, abandoned post in solidarity with the so-called missing staffer. While the ‘missing’ person has been found, precious lives already harmed or lost are either permanently incapacitated or lost forever.
“It is very sad, indeed a poor reflection on a profession of such standing and on its commitment to the unique oath that binds it.”
President Mnangagwa called on the health personnel to return to work and restore service to those in need of them.
“As we reflect on this sad turn of events, the least our medical staff can do now is to return to their work stations without any further delay and to restore and resume vital service to all those in desperate need of them,” he said.
“The appropriate, professional response to reports of any missing person should never take the form that endangers more lives, all of them innocent.
“Now is the time for our medical staff to retrieve their collective conscience and to restate their commitment to the very oath that makes their profession sacred.
“As I said, Government is looking at improving their working conditions, including revamping our entire health delivery services, through significant investments which are already evident. But the cycle of labour instability and indiscipline in the medical sector must come to an end.”
President Mnangagwa said Government would continue to review and adjust the cost of living of all civil servants, although the drought experienced this year had resulted in meagre resources being directed towards the importation of grain.
“Our nation requires bridging grain of more than 800 000 tonnes to ensure food security in the country until the next harvest,” he said. “All the same, Government continues to value and address the concerns of our care-givers, whose services are essential and life-saving.”
Meanwhile, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Cain Mathema said Dr Magombeyi had been examined by his own personal and Government doctors and would be interviewed by the police, in consultation with his lawyers, once discharged.
Minister Mathema warned some sections of the media and human rights lawyers against interfering with police investigations.
“The Government of Zimbabwe reiterates that Dr Magombeyi has not been arrested by the police as portrayed in some media circles, neither has he been denied access to his lawyers,” he said. “In fact it is on record through the police that Dr Magombeyi has freely accessed his lawyers, medical doctors and reunited with his family.
“May I caution the media, human rights lawyers and some civil organisations against interfering with police investigations through the issuance of unverified statements, some of which border on defeating or obstructing the course of justice.”