Zimbabwe’s Minister of Health has asked the security services to search for Peter Magombeyi, the head of a doctors’ union, who disappeared on Saturday. Union officials and human rights activists fear that he has been abducted by the security forces.
Dr. Magombeyi was the organiser of doctors’ strike demanding better working conditions in the country where inflation is making it impossible for his colleagues to get to work as their salary has shrunk to $100 (£80) a month.
Health Minister Odabiah Moyo said the state security agencies would leave no stone unturned in their search for acting president of the Zimbabwe Hospitals Association (ZHDA).
“We are taking this matter very seriously and we condemn illegal acts by whosoever with the revulsion it deserves,” he said in a statement tweeted on Sunday evening.
The ZHDA says Dr Magombeyi has not been heard from since he sent a message on Saturday to his girlfriend saying he had been kidnapped by three men.
Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa tweeted that Dr Magombey’s only crime was to “ask for a living wage for his profession”
The abduction is an attack on the health profession and the right of workers to picket, the Zimbabwe’s Association of Doctors For Human Rights said.
The police say they are investigating the matter but have cautioned there was a possibility it was a use to tarnish the country’s reputation. There have been a spate of recent abductions in Zimbabwe by those who are seen as critical of the government.
Comedian Samantha Kureya, known by her stage name “Gonyeti”, was abducted and beaten up in August by armed men who she said told her that she was “too young to mock them”.
Before that, activists who were planning anti-government protests were being abducted and tortured, human rights groups say.
The Zimbabwean authorities denied any involvement in those abductions.