Civil rights groups
MUTAWATAWA – ZANU PF has drawn the ire of child rights activist after giving a house and a large sum of money to Bobby Makaza, who was convicted of raping a 10-year-old girl.
Makaza was imprisoned for 16 years by a Murewa magistrate in 2019 for the rape that occurred in 2018.
However, he was released in May this year along with more than 4 200 other prisoners after President Emmerson Mnangagwa signed a clemency order.
The order included rapists and murderers who were 60 years or older.
The amnesty, which aimed to reduce prison overcrowding and offer offenders a second chance, received mixed reactions.
Makaza became famous in the ruling party for coming up with Zanu PF’s 2023 election campaign slogan: “ED Huchi”, which is widely used at its rallies.
Zanu PF political commissar Mike Bimha announced at a Zanu PF rally in Mutawatawa, Mashonaland East province, on Saturday, that the Zanu PF party that the party’s youth secretary Tinoda Machakaire is building a house for the former prisoner.
Makaza also received US$700 in cash after Machakaire gave him US$500 and other party members contributed US$200.
“Cde Machakaire is building him a house and has also given him cash. Other party members have also chipped in with some cash incentives,” Bimha said at the rally.
Makaza was invited to meet Mnangagwa at the high table, but he did not make it in time because he was too far from the stage.
Makaza wore all-white Zanu PF clothing and was treated like a star as ruling party supporters wanted to take pictures with him.
However, his release was condemned by civil society organisations, women’s rights activists and opposition political parties, who said it was an insult to survivors of sexual violence and a violation of the principles of justice and accountability.
Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, a Zimbabwean human rights lawyer currently serving as the Africa Union’s Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriage, said the decision to reward Makaza had frightened her.
“Am feeling sick. Traumatized,” she wrote on her twitter account. This man is a confessed rapist. I work every day with abused and raped girls and their families. Can someone balance me here in why he was given a house?”
Romeo Chasara, a political analyst based at Witwatersrand University, said the ruling Zanu PF was setting a bad example by “celebrating” rapists.
The activists said the party’s actions not only downplayed the seriousness of the crime committed, but also encouraged a culture of impunity.