||18 January 2009 07:00
|Show: ||Carte Blanche|
This week the President of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangarai vowed to return to Zimbabwe to continue to fulfil the mandate to build a new, democratic, peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe.
Derek Watts (Carte Blanche presenter): "A 50 billion dollar note has just been issued... it buys three newspapers. Along with mass-starvation and a deadly cholera outbreak Zimbabwe is in dire need of a functioning government, but then we have been saying that for a number of years."
Bothwell Pasipamire (MDC Councillor): "This time the situation is now at a critical point."
From October last year, state security forces launched an abduction campaign code-named "Chimumumu". Bothwell Pasipamire was amongst 43 MDC members and human rights activists who were arrested along with Zimbabwe Peace Project leader - Jestina Mukoko. Bothwell is the first to escape.
Bothwell: "My feeling is right now - that if I am given a gun to shoot Robert Mugabe I am going to do it straight away."
He is an ordinary family man with two small children, but his involvement as an MDC councillor in the rural village of KadKaKadoma, a hundred kilometres south of Harare, has earned him the wrath of the notorious CIO agents. Like others he has been arrested, beaten and tortured several times.
Derek: "What happened in the middle of last month?"
Bothwell: "At around 12h30 midnight I was sleeping with my wife. I heard something like a noise outside. I thought there are some thieves..."
When Bothwell went to investigate he was met by the barrel of a gun.
Bothwell: "Are you Bothwell Pasipamire the councillor? Then I said, Yes'."
Geoff Hill (Author & Journalist): "They were after a specific person."
Zimbabwean journalist and author Geoff Hill believes that Bothwell's abduction was not random.
Geoff: "I see a lot of parallels of apartheid South Africa and what Mugabe is doing in Zimbabwe now."
They blinded him with a spray and bundled him into the car. When the effects wore off he realised they were heading to the CIO headquarters at Goromonzi.
Derek: "Did you know about this camp?"
Bothwell: "Yes, that is not a place that I want to go to."
Derek: "It appears that Goromonzi, about 30km east of Harare, has become a torture camp to discipline and subjugate any dissidents of the Mugabe-regime and that is where Bothwell was taken in the early hours."
He was locked up in a small room for several hours before being led off to the torture room for questioning.
Bothwell: Then he said, You are an MDC activist.' Then I said, Yes.' Then he said, No, my job is to sort you out the MDC activists and I want to finish them all.'"
The army officer interrogating him was not happy with his answers. That's when the torture began.
Bothwell: "He started assaulting me with claps, and then he started kicking me, beating me all over my body."
His captor, warrant officer Mabunu ordered him to remove his clothes and tied a brick to his genitals - attaching it with twine. He forced Bothwell to lift the brick off the ground at his command.
Bothwell: "I was sitting like this when the brick was there. He said, If I say "one" I want you to lift up the brick. If I say "two" I want you to drop the brick.'"
And this is where the torture turned into molestation.
Bothwell: "He started to play with my private parts."
Derek: "How were you feeling then - were you semi-conscious?"
Bothwell: "At that time I was feeling as if I am someone who is already dead."
Derek: "After hours of humiliating torture Mabunu's attitude suddenly changed. He didn't want Bothwell to suffer any longer, but they did need his help."
Bothwell: "'We have got some soldiers here... so I want you to kill a soldier.'"
Derek: "To kill a soldier?"
Bothwell: "Yes, to kill a soldier. Then I said, No, in my life I doesn't have even one day of my live killing anybody.'"
He was forced to act out a killing while they filmed it.
Bothwell: "Acting like you are hitting the soldier and I was given a crowbar to act like you are hitting him all over his body."
We spoke to Zanu-PF spokesperson Bright Mutongo in Harare - he denies the allegations.
Bright Mutongo (Zanu-PF Spokesman): "We don't condone or tolerate any form of torture. I don't support that at all."
Bothwell: "During the night I heard screams of the people who were being tortured outside. They were crying in pain. In the women's section I heard a woman who was crying."
Derek: "Stories of the abuse and torture of MDC members in Zimbabwe have become so commonplace that the news agencies hardly react, but the filming of fake confessions seems to be a new tactic."
Bothwell: "'You have murdered at least one soldier, is that true?' Then he said, Yes, it is true.' Who gave you those orders?' Then he said, Our party president, Morgan Tsvangarai is the one who gives us these orders.'"
Bothwell kept a record of the forced confessions that his captors asked him to recite. They also implicate Botswana.
Bothwell: "Where were you trained for killing these soldiers?' I was trained in Botswana.' That's the answer."
The alleged scripts said that Britain and the US had paid him 1000 dollars to train soldiers using Botswana's President Ian Khama as an intermediary. The embassy here dismissed the allegations.
Derek: "They asked how many people were being trained in Botswana and you were asked to answer: many thousands'?"
Bothwell: "Yes, all those answers I was given by Mr Mabunu to answer those questions."
Derek: Why are you getting the MDC detainees to make forced confessions on camera?"
Bright: "This is only speculation or hearsay and really it would be naive of me to comment on hearsay or speculation."
Geoff: "There has to be an agenda somewhere. Now we know that Robert Mugabe is an exceptionally good politician, and when I say that - he is very good at politics'... he is a great survivor and he has to have an agenda. Maybe it's to call a fresh election, maybe it's to declare a state of emergency, who knows. But he seems to be building evidence in support of some kind of action."
Political analyst Moeletsi Mbeki believes the motives are more sinister.
Moeletsi Mbeki (Political analyst): "Mugabe is now looking or a pretext in order to amass his army on the border with Botswana. So he is building up a case, a false case, but nonetheless he's building up a case in order to prepare for either a direct invasion of Botswana or to amass an army and compel the president of Botswana to recognise him as the president of Zimbabwe."
Derek: "How would it help Zimbabwe or Robert Mugabe to attack Botswana?"
Moeletsi: "Mugabe see's Botswana as a potential safe base for the MDC, so he doesn't want Botswana to play that role so he has to terrorise Botswana not to even begin playing that role."
Derek: "Surely that's more of a diplomatic issue?"
Moeletse: "No, it's not a diplomatic issue because in fact Botswana has been very open to the opposition, to Morgan Tsvangarai. They have given him whatever temporary asylum he wants in Botswana."
Bright: "What you will never hear from myself as a government spokesperson is attacking Botswana, is attacking the president of Botswana, Mr Ian Kama. He is a neighbour, we respect him, but he should also the people of Zimbabwe."
Derek: "With so many stories like Bothwell's emanating from Zimbabwe since the elections you have got to ask what will it take for the SADC community, and the world peacekeepers for that matter, to react to the ongoing oppression of any political resistance?"
Moeletsi: It's the poor South Africans who are feeling the brunt. It's the poor South Africans who are now being infected with cholera in Limpopo province."
As and cholera continues to spread, along with poverty and unemployment, the pressure mounts.
Moeletsi: "Now, the South African government will have to put pressure on Robert Mugabe because if our own population is dying, which people are beginning to die in Limpopo from cholera imported from Zimbabwe, they will have to do something."
Derek: "We surely have to get our house in order by 2010."
Moeletsi: "Long before 2010... who is going to come from the big wide world' to come and watch our world cup in 2010 if they run the risk of being infected with cholera by coming to watch soccer in South Africa? Nobody is going to come."
Derek: "Bright, with poverty, starvation, decease, and inflation that is truly a joke, isn't it time for Robert Gabriel Mugabe to throw in the towel?"
Bright: "If people think that removing president Robert Mugabe from power by whatever means is going to solve these issues, people will be surprised... there are millions of Mugabes' around which means you've got to wipe the whole of Zimbabwe..."
Stories like Bothwell's hit headlines around the world and putting even more pressure on Zimbabwe to effect change. And its change that Bothwell needs if he ever wants to go home.
Bothwell: "Mugabe now knows that I released the information so if I go back to Zimbabwe as it is, Mugabe can kill me. Straight away I can be killed by Mugabe."
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:While every attempt has been made to ensure this transcript or summary is accurate, Carte Blanche or its agents cannot be held liable for any claims arising out of inaccuracies caused by human error or electronic fault. This transcript was typed from a transcription recording unit and not from an original script, so due to the possibility of mishearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, errors cannot be ruled out.