Zimbabwe is back in the spotlight for the wrong reasons after three MDC Alliance activists were allegedly abducted and tortured following their arrest for taking part in a protest in Harare.
Harare West MP Joana Mamombe and two youth leaders Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova went missing last week after police had confirmed detaining them.
The trio were found a day later in Bindura “badly beaten and tortured”, according to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
According to the women, their abductors subjected them to gross sexual abuse during their ordeal and this has elicited condemnation from various quarters.
Police are now denying ever arresting the activists after the extent of the abuse perpetrated on the women was exposed on various media platforms.
The world has reacted with outrage and, as usual, the government is not taking responsibility for the heinous crimes.
As in previous incidents, the authorities are blaming the victims, who they allege staged the demonstrations to tarnish Zimbabwe’s image.
The script does not change. Last year alone, more than 50 government critics were allegedly abducted and tortured by suspected state security agents after demonstrations.
The government denied accusations that it was behind the abductions, just as it has done in the case of the three activists, and promised to investigate.
And, of course, it goes without saying that none of those cases have been resolved nor was anyone charged for faking their abduction and torture.
It was expected that the authorities would back their accusations that the activists were staging their own abductions if there was any truth to the claims by exposing the lies.
Abductions and forced disappearances are common in Zimbabwe, going back to the Robert Mugabe era and there is a clear pattern.
The state has always been pointed out as the major perpetrator of these despicable crimes.
If President Emmerson Mnangagwa is still serious about making a clean break from the Mugabe years, he has to ensure a thorough investigation into the abductions of critics of his government starting with the case of the latest victims.
Those suspected of being behind the abductions must be brought to justice.
Police also have a responsibility to handle the cases in a non-partisan manner to instil confidence in the victims.
So far the handling of the case involving the MDC Alliance activists leaves a lot to be desired.
Zimbabwe will continue to be regarded as a pariah state as long as such criminal activities continue to be perpetrated against citizens.