Former army officer breaks silence on coup accusations

An army officer, who with six friends was abducted in May 2007 and ended up spending seven years in Chikurubi Prison, has broken his silence by speaking to The Zimbabwean this week.

Albert Matapo: Mnangagwa can even be worse than Mugabe.
Albert Matapo: Mnangagwa can even be worse than Mugabe.

“Zanu (PF)’s days in power are numbered and we are not scared of them,” said former Army Captain Albert Matapo, who was accused of plotting a coup to hand over power to Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.

He and six others, Emmanuel Marara, Oncemore Mudzurahona, Partson Mupfure, Nyasha Zivuku, Rangarirai Mazivofa and Shingirai Webster Mutemachani, were abducted on May 29, 2007 at 108 Nelson Mandela Avenue, Harare, by people in plain clothes who identified themselves as CIO and army intelligence officers.

Matapo left the army in 1991 and believes his abduction had nothing to do with the military. “We were abducted because we were in the process of forming a new political party which is now called United Crusade for Achieving Democracy (UCAD). They blind folded us, stripped us naked, handcuffed, leg-chained us and thrown into unmarked vehicles. All people who were in the office were abducted including women and visitors but later released,” he said.

Matapo said they were taken to an unknown destination where they suffered several forms of tortured, including electrocution on the genitals. During the ordeal they were asked several questions, including whether they were not MDC-T or knew people like the now late ZNA General Armstrong Gunda, and who else they were connected to.

“When we told them that we were forming a political party they denied and said we were plotting a coup d’etat and wanted to hand over power to Mnangagwa. We vehemently deny this fallacy. They took us to Harare Central Police Station where they handed us over to CID Law and Order on June 2, 2007,” he said.

“Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison is hell and we were denied bail applications many times,” added Matapo. However, the treason trial did not commence due to lack of evidence and the seven men were released on March 1. Matapo claimed that state security agents looted their money and various properties when they were abducted.

“They took more than US$20,000, computers, documents including title deeds and lease agreements from our company Gestawalt Investments offices in Harare. They also ransacked my house in Ruwa and took other valuables worth US$10,000, jewellery worth thousands of pounds, computers and a S320 Mercedes Benz,” he alleged.

They went ahead and formed their party, UCAD, which was launched on August 1 in Harare. The party is yet to reveal its detailed policies.

“There is no way normal people like us would remove Robert Mugabe and put Mnangagwa because they are one and the same. Mnangagwa can even be worse than Mugabe. We are aware that he was one of those who commanded the people who committed Gukurahundi atrocities in Matabeleland. They created these false allegations so as to tarnish our image and that of the emerging party,” said the former army captain.

“We were not able to refute these false allegations because of our imprisonment. UCAD is a genuine political party. We don’t want to fool the people. The existing opposition parties are proxies of Zanu (PF),” he asserted.

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