Hundreds of Zimbabwean doctors protested in Harare over the disappearance of their union leader with riot police stopping them marching to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office.
Peter Magombeyi, president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), was an organiser of an ongoing strike to demand higher wages for state doctors because of soaring living costs, before he disappeared on Saturday night.
ZHDA represents mainly junior doctors at public hospitals.
Colleagues allege he was abducted by security services attempting to break the strike, which disrupted hospital healthcare services. A senior information ministry official denied government was responsible.
A High Court judge ordered the ministers of police and state security and the heads of intelligence and police to investigate Magombeyi’s disappearance and report their progress to his lawyers, a ruling seen by Reuters showed.
Magombeyi’s sister filed a court application to force government to do everything possible to find her brother.
Police are investigating spokesman Paul Nyathi said.
Rights groups accuse government of abducting activists in the lead-up to planned opposition protests last month, when government also denied responsibility.
Mnangagwa’s government said it will not use excessive force against protesters after being criticised over heavy-handed response to post-election violence last year and protests over fuel price hikes this year.
Doctors chanted “No Peter, no work” and held placards reading “Bring Peter back” as riot police stopped them marching beyond the High Court building.
They dispersed after police allowed six to deliver a petition to Mnangagwa’s office demanding action over Magombeyi’s disappearance. They said the strike would continue.
“Dr Peter Magombeyi’s whereabouts remain unknown and we are seriously concerned. We demand his unconditional return to his family,” the petition read.
Two years after Mnangagwa and the army conspired to oust Robert Mugabe people are suffering from triple-digit price rises and shortages of basic goods including fuel.
Mnangagwa’s government promised salary increases to public sector workers, but many say they are insufficient.
Diplomats are monitoring whether authorities respect the people’s right to protest peacefully.