The leader of the doctors’ union was abducted from his home on Saturday night, colleagues said.
Peter Magombeyi, president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), was seized by three men just days after receiving threats on his phone.
The incident allegedly took place in Budiriro, a suburb of Harare.
The ZHDA said Magombeyi sent an “alarming message” just after 10PM and since then “efforts to reach him have been fruitless”.
“This is a huge blow to the association and our profession,” the doctors said.
“Every doctor in this country should withdraw their services until he is released.”
Magombeyi on August 28 used Twitter to share a message sent to his phone by an individual suspected to be a state operative threatening him with abduction after doctors declared an impasse with the government and announced strike action.
When u say u are hungry and threats start to come left right and center pic.twitter.com/pqKZD73hjC
— Dr Peter Magombeyi (@DMagombeyi) August 28, 2019
Doctors have been on strike since September 3 after declaring that they were “incapacitated” to go to work owing to poor salaries. Last week, they rejected an offer of a salary increment of $360 Zimbabwe dollars offered by the government.
Doctors want their salaries which were denominated in United States dollars until June to be raised more than tenfold in keeping with the exchange rate changes as the local currency continues its rapid decline.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, in a statement, said: “We call on the abductors to release him forthwith. Abduction or enforced disappearance is an international crime.
“Doctors have a right to embark on collective job action. Expressing their concerns on poor working conditions is a right not a privilege. The abduction of Magombeyi to prevent doctors from organising is barbaric and unlawful.”
Last month, half a dozen activists were seized at night from their homes by suspected government agents and tortured to prevent them from organising and participating in demonstrations called by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
Below is a statement from ZHDA on the matter.
ZHDA is shocked and concerned about the abduction of our Acting President Dr Peter Magornbeyi late last night, Saturday 14 September 2019 at around 22:00hrs. Dr Magornbeyi was abducted by 3 men who we suspect to be State security agents.
The abduction was preceded by numerous anonymous threats made to Dr Magornbeyi including, for example, a text message from 0786.5911 which read “Usazoti I did not warn you. Ramba uchiita nharo. Uchatorwa nechampupuri. We are getting close now, (Translation: Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Carry on with the way you are acting and you will be abducted. We are getting close.) ZHDA has been in ongoing negotiations with the State about doctors’ working conditions as we are currently incapacitated.
He was last heard from at 22:19hrs on Saturday 14 September 2019 when he sent a WhatsApp message to the ZHDA Junior Doctors WhatsApp group which read “Kidnapped by 3 men.fam 0715320465.
Efforts to reach his family on the aforementioned number and to reach Dr Magombeyi on his personal phone lines have been fruitless.
We demand to know where he is and his immediate release.
From ZHDA Information Desk