HARARE - Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) elder, Didymus Mutasa — who was for a long time one of the closest people to President Robert Mugabe, and the political head of the country’s dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) — says he is prepared to name out some of the Zanu PF thugs who have been fingered in the abduction and torture of innocent Zimbabweans over the years.
However, he told the Daily News in an exclusive interview yesterday, that he was wary of running foul of the country’s notorious Official Secrets Act if he did so at the moment — as he had “no doubt” in his mind that his opponents in Zanu PF would “gleefully” use this legislation to deal with him severely.
Mutasa said it was only in this light that he had been reluctant to name the abductors and torturers of leading human rights activist, Jestina Mukoko, when he was called upon to do so.
“I had little choice but to withhold the (Mukoko) file because I was sworn to secrecy,” he said.
Mutasa’s comments came as Mukoko — who heads rights group, the Zimbabwe Peace Project — complained this week that Mutasa had thrown bureaucratic obstacles in her path to thwart the naming and shaming of people who abducted and tortured her in 2008.
Mukoko, who had become one of the Zanu PF government’s fiercest critics at the time, was taken away from her Norton home on December 3, 2008 by a group of men — believed to be security agents — who identified themselves to her as policemen.
The High Court subsequently ordered police to find Mukoko following her disappearance — during which time she was viciously tortured by her abductors.
It was during the court case that came after she was freed that Mutasa declined to name her abductors and torturers.
In his interview with the Daily News yesterday, he said he was prepared to name the people who had been fingered in the abduction and torture of Mukoko, but was wary about breaching the Official Secrets Act, in light of the oath he had taken as State Security minister.
However, he said, he would be happy to furnish the leading human rights activist with the names of the people who had tormented her in private.
Mutasa said if Mukoko had in fact approached him in his personal capacity at the time, he would have been willing to show her the people behind her abduction and torture.
“I had no option at the time because I was the minister of State Security and the law does not take kindly to an official who breaches oaths of office.
“It was only because of that, that I had to protect them as I had no other option. That is what the law requires,” he said.
The former Zanu PF secretary for administration and one-time close confidante to Mugabe also insisted that he was “a man of integrity whose conduct was beyond reproach”.
The Mukoko accusations also came at a time that Mutasa is suing former Finance minister Tendai Biti regarding the death of 12-year-old Christpowers Maisiri — the son of a Headlands MDC activist who was killed in politically-motivated violence in 2013.
Mukoko blasted Mutasa at the one-year commemoration rally of abducted democracy activist Itai Dzamara last week.
“When my lawyer wanted to know the identities of the people who did this (tortured me), minister Mutasa issued a ministerial certificate which said those people were not going to be identified because they were on State business,” she told the commemorations that were attended by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
“So Mutasa knows the people who abducted me, the people who held me incommunicado, the people who handed me over to the police, but he protected their identities,” she said, adding that the fact that Mutasa was now a member of the opposition would not necessarily make him “holy”.
“The new face does not change anything. It does not rub that I was abducted. I was tortured and I was not protected by the law and the people who did this to me have had their identities protected.
“It does not change anything that he (Mutasa) is no longer with Zanu PF and he is now with People First. He is still Didymus Mutasa,” Mukoko charged.
ZPF leader and former vice president Joice Mujuru has also expressed her discomfort about divulging details of Mugabe’s and Zanu PF’s misrule of the past 36 years, citing the Official Secrets Act.
Speaking in an interview with popular South African talk radio station SAfm on Tuesday, Mujuru shied away from talking about the alleged election rigging and other atrocities of the past three and half decades.
“I did not take part (in rigging). It is not something that is for public consumption. It could not have been a public thing. It was not something that every Jack and Jill would know if it ever happened.
“I did not know or come across it. But the other thing that you should understand is that when you are appointed under oath, (you cannot reveal) all the things,” she said circumspectly.