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.