Zimbabwe: Artist abducted and tortured

15 September 2016

Silvanos Mudzvova
Artist and activist Silvanos Mudzvova is recovering in a Harare hospital after six armed men abducted him from his home late in the evening on 13 September 2016, drove him out of the capital city and brutally tortured him, Mudzvova told Freemuse from his hospital bed.

“The people who took me were well trained and they had AK47 guns, which are not carried by ordinary people. And the way they electrocuted me was very professional,” Mudzvova said. “They targeted me as I am responsible for the creative side of a movement called Tajamuka and was also acting as its spokesperson.”

Mudzvova added that the unknown men, whom he suspects to be part of government bodies, told him to stay silent and threatened his life and his family “as the only two options” he had if he chose to continue to speak out.

Mudzvova told Daily News on 15 September 2016 that he would file a police report, but was not “expecting anything” to come of it.

Spokesperson for citizen movement
Mudzvova had been acting as Tajamuka’s spokesperson for several weeks after the group’s official spokesperson, Promise Mkwananzi, was arrested on charges of being part of a group that set fire to a police vehicle during recent riots. Mkwananzi was released on 14 September 2016, reported Voice of America Zimbabwe

According to a 15 September 2016 statement by Tajamuka on their Facebook page, two other of its members were abducted and tortured just days before Mudzvova was, and four other members were assaulted.

The group has been involved in calling into question various governmental measures over, among other things, policing, unemployment, the country’s cash crisis and an accounting of the $15 billion President Mugabe recently said went missing from mining operations. The group is also in the final stages of submitting an application to the International Criminal Court addressing cases of abduction and political violence.

Staging political play
Since April 2016 Mudzvova has been performing his recent one-man play, ‘Missing Diamonds, I Need My Share’, about the missing money. He was arrested for his first performance of the play, which he staged in front of parliament, and was released later that evening.

In October 2015 Mudzvova participated in a workshop in Harare organised by Freemuse and local civil society organisation Nhimbe Trust about artistic freedom in Zimbabwe. The process led to the submission of a stakeholder report on artistic freedom as part of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of Zimbabwe.

Among its recommendations, the report recommended that Zimbabwe should abolish its Censorship Board and ensure that its police forces do not abuse their powers to limit its citizens’ artistic freedom.


» Daily News – 15 September 2016:
Anti-govt protestor ‘abducted’

» News 24 – 14 September 2016:
Zimbabwe activist found alive, tortured after abduction – group

» Voice of America Zimbabwe – 14 September 2016:

Tajamuka’s Promise Mkwananzi granted bail as assailants torture his colleague

More from Freemuse

» 14 April 2016: Zimbabwe: Theatre producer arrested for staging one-man play

» 31 March 2016: Artistic freedom in Zimbabwe: Joint stakeholder report submitted to UN

» 27 October 2015: Zimbabwe: Censorship board should be abolished, says workshop group

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