DEFENCE deputy minister Victor Matemadanda has unwittingly exposed government's hand in the alleged abduction and forced disappearances of opposition and human rights activists after he bragged that "sell-outs will be dealt with and will disappear mysteriously".
Addressing a Zanu-PF Manicaland provincial co-ordinating committee meeting in Mutare on Sunday, Matemadanda, who is the party's national political commissar, said: "I told other people that if you are a sell-out, and if you wake up and pursue your sell-out activities while people are sleeping, this country has something that it will do to you.
"You will disappear without anyone touching you. This country will deal with you mysteriously. This country is a mystery, you just can't do as you please."
His remarks came as human rights activists have recorded a spike in abductions and torture of opposition activists by suspected State security agents.
Over a dozen human rights activists, among them Itai Dzamara and Patrick Nyabanyana, have disappeared without trace over the last few years, with rights lobby groups claiming they had recorded 69 abductions this year alone.
Government has, however, denied being involved in the disappearances, saying these were stage-managed to taint the country's image and justify the extension of the trade embargo against President Emmerson Mnangagwa's administration.
Matemadanda singled out hospital doctors' former leader Peter Magombeyi and comedienne Samatha Kureya, also known as Gonyeti, for exaggerating the country's human rights crisis by claiming to be victims of State abduction and torture.
But Jameson Timba, secretary for presidential affairs in MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa's office, said the remarks made by Matemadanda were "most unfortunate".
"These remarks are not dissimilar from the remarks made by Patrick Chinamasa (Zanu-PF politburo member and acting spokesperson), which were basically inciting violence in the country," Timba said.
"His suggestion in the context of the abductions that have been taking place in this country, that if you sell out then you will disappear, is totally unacceptable and irresponsible and also shows who has been behind the abductions in the country."
National Patriotic Front spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire said: "Having a Deputy Minister of Defence and a top Zanu-PF official boasting of using violence, abductions and extra-judicial killings lends credence to the call by Zimbabweans for Sadc, AU [African Union] and UN [United Nations]'s intervention in order to deal with this rogue regime.
"It is people like Matemadanda who are responsible for creating a social and political crises that Zanu-PF and the regime are spectacularly failing to dissociate themselves from."
He added: "We have a Constitution, section 67, which gives political rights and provides for the right for peaceful activities, including demonstrations, satire, drama and music, to influence or challenge government policies or any political activity."
In a separate address at the weekend, Gokwe-Nembudziya MP Justice Mayor Wadyajena told party supporters that Mnangagwa had "planted" his intelligence operatives in all parts of the country to sniff out "sell-outs".
"President Mnangagwa is the one who created the CIO [Central Intelligence Organisation] in 1980 and there is nowhere he can fail to get information on what is happening.
"You will be caught. Imagine people getting money in secret, but it came out," he said, in apparent reference to former senior Zanu-PF members who were recently expelled for allegedly conniving with the opposition to incite an uprising against Mnangagwa.
"There are people who were fired from the party for fanning factionalism. People like (Claveria) Chizema, Tendai Savanhu and one youth league member. Factionalism must end, let us end gossip and let us unite as Zanu-PF," Wadyajena said.
"Those who were expelled from the party had started lying and abusing the name of Vice-President (Constantino) Chiwenga to say he wants to take over from President Mnangagwa.
"Those people created their fliers with the VP's image on them saying he must help the people to remove Mnangagwa.
"They were working with the opposition and some even received money to organise people ahead of the July 31 demonstrations. Unfortunately for them, the President's eyes are everywhere. They are here and what we are doing is actually being seen and you will be caught."
He also accused "Zanu-PF rebels" of working in cahoots with the opposition to peddle false reports of a rift between Mnangagwa and his deputy, Chiwenga.
"People want to create a wedge between President Mnangagwa and VicePresident Chiwenga and that will not happen.
"If VP Chiwenga had wanted to be President, he could have taken over in 2017 when the President was in South Africa and (the late former President Robert) Mugabe had been removed, but he is a principled man and follows the party ideology.
"If he wants to be President, he can wait for his turn. It is not criminal to aspire to be President,"Wadyajena said.