Where is Itai Dzamara?

HARARE - “DEAR God, I know that you will bring my father back,” is a prayer that Nenyasha, daughter of the  missing journalist-cum-human rights activist Itai Dzamara recites every night before going to bed.

The three-year-old, who has not seen her father for almost 100 days, is obviously affected psychologically and emotionally by her dad's absence. She is now looking to God for intervention as the State continues to profess ignorance on her father's whereabouts.

Dzamara, who had fierce run-ins with authorities after staging a one-man protest against President Robert Mugabe in the Africa Unity Square, was abducted at a barbershop in the high density suburb of Glenview on March 9. He has not been seen since then.

All efforts to locate him have so far been fruitless. The courts have ordered the police to find Itai but there has been no progress so far.

Patson Dzamara, a brother to the missing activist, told the Daily News on Sunday last week that the family still had no idea where he is.

“Surprisingly, we have not heard from the authorities, the security agents and I really wonder what sort of an investigation they are carrying out without even trying to even find out some information from us, from the wife and from us as siblings or even the parents. None of us has been approached,” Patson said.

“As far as my understanding is concerned, this was supposed to be a back-and-forth kind of scenario but the only time we have interacted with them was probably the first week when Itai disappeared and all they did was take statements, so it’s really worrying to us why they have not engaged us officially as a family. We read a lot of stuff. As far as I know, no one in the family has been contacted in as far as the investigation is concerned."

Patson narrated a heart rending tale of how his parents, especially his mother, had suffered untold emotional turmoil over Itai’s disappearance.

“Our mother…she’s distraught but of course there is a resonance of hope among us as family members," he said. "Through our faith in God, we are still hoping that one way or the other, Itai will spring up.

"We are holding on to the belief and the theory that he is being held somewhere and we still believe contrary to other theory or reports or speculative stories we have heard, we are still hoping and believing that Itai is alive and one day he is going to come forth although the issue that this has been too long is worrying,” he said.

He said Itai’s 7-year-old son was deeply affected by his father's continued absence.

“The boy is very inquisitive," he said. "At times when he sees me, he asks; ‘have you come with my dad.’ It’s really not an easy scenario for me.”

Rights groups and the international community havecalled on government to ensure the safe return of the human rights activist.

A visiting delegation from the United States of America expressed concern over Dzamara’s disappearance.

The delegation included two senior US State department officials, Shannon Smith, who is deputy assistant secretary for African affairs and Steven Feldstein, the deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour.

“From the United States’ perspective, we have concerns about the human rights violations and that includes intimidation, harassment, torture and forced disappearances,” Feldstein said during a recent press briefing in Harare.

“We are also concerned about long-standing government restrictions, when it comes to the ability of civil society to operate, independent media, political parties, activists and regular citizens and we believe these long-standing restrictions do impede fundamental freedoms.

“We are now entering a third month into the disappearance of Itai Dzamara, he’s a civil society activist. His disappearance is something of a strong concern to the United States. We have raised the issue of his disappearance with the government and would welcome regular updates as to the status of the investigation as ordered by the High Court."

The European Parliament strongly condemned the enforced disappearance of Dzamara and urged the government to comply fully with the High Court order directing it to search for him.

The bloc expressed concern at the reports by human rights organisations of increasing political violence and other human rights abuses and called for concerted action by the international community.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (Zhlr) successfully filed a harbeas corpus application at the High Court, with Justice Mangota ordering Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi, police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri, Central Intelligence Organisation director-general Happyton Bonyongwe and the State Security minister — listed as respondents in the application alleging State security agents had masterminded the abduction of Dzamara — to find him.

Police have also issued a statement saying they had opened investigations.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police is appealing for information on the whereabouts of Itai Peace Kadiki Dzamara aged 35 years,” the police statement said.

“Anyone with information, please contact Officer Commanding Police (Law and Order Division), Assistant Commissioner Makedenge on (04) 251505 or the Officer in Charge CID (Criminal Investigations Department) Law and Order Harare.”

Makedenge says there has been no progress in the investigations.

Describing the abduction as “barbaric”, Zimbabwe Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa told Parliament two months ago that he could not admit that Dzamara was arrested or is in their custody, raising grave concerns for his safety.

Last week the Zimbabwe's influential Catholic bishops called on the police to expedite the search for Dzamara.

Alexio Muchabaiwa, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) chairman, said three months after Dzamara was seized by five armed men who shoved him into an unmarked truck and sped off, he has not been accounted for.

CCJP is a commission of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference and Inter-regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa (Imbisa) mandated to promote justice and peace guided by gospel values or social teachings of the church.

“His disappearance could be seen in a broader context of sustaining fear as a strategy of restraining freedom of expression, participation, association and democracy against the values and aims of our liberation struggle,” Muchabaiwa said.

Patson hailed the initiative by the church as positive development. He also expressed gratitude towards the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC which he says has been supportive throughout the trying time.

He said apart from frequent visits to Itai’s home by senior officials including Tsvangirai himself, the party also provides financial support.

“It’s something that we have also expected the State to be doing because he is also a citizen who is under the protection of who he is supposed to be under," he said. "It’s really worrying that the State has not been forth coming in this regard.

“I even tried to penetrate and engage certain individuals in government to no avail. The fact that I’m a Dzamara and Dzamara had a principle that was against the policies of the government perhaps has precipitated their cold shoulder which I feel is immature at this point in time.

“At the end of the day, Itai Dzamara remains a Zimbabwean just like anyone else. And the State must be responsible and so to me, I would say that there has been some level of maturity especially from the guys in the MDC who have been forth coming.”

He added: “MDC chose to take it upon themselves to see to it that they attend to Itai’s family which I feel is key at this point in time.

“My parents contributed in as far as the liberation war is concerned and when I look at them and what has happened to their son, I do not think that’s what they had on their mind when they went to the bushes to fight for the liberation of Zimbabwe.

"I believe that there is more to it and I really implore the powers that be to probe into their conscience what’s prevailing. Is this what they fought for? I do not think that this is the representation of the freedom they fought for and so as such, I appeal to the authorities to make sure that Itai is released.”

There are a few high profile cases of enforced disappearances including the case of Rashiwe Guzha, a typist within the Central Intelligence Organisation who disappeared in May 1990 and remains missing, feared murdered; Edwin Nleya, Patrick Nabayana, the chief polling agent for opposition candidate David Coltart abducted in 2000 by men armed with AK47 rifles, body found a few months later; activist Paul Chizuzu who disappeared in February 2012, remains missing, feared murdered; and army captain Edwin Nleya, who disappeared, feared murdered as well.

In the case of Zimbabwe Peace Project director Jestina Mukoko, she was abducted at her house on December 3, 2008, she was tortured by state agents and later handed over to the police."

Dewa Mavhinga, senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, said the practice of enforced disappearances is widely used by government agents who do so with impunity as none of them are ever held accountable for their crimes.

"For the State agencies to profess ignorance as to Dzamara's whereabouts is simply to hide behind a finger," Mavhinga said.

"Outside of state involvement, people do not simply vanish from the streets of Zimbabwe without the police establishing what happened. As far as citizens are concerned, there is law and order in Zimbabwe, so when a disappearance occurs its either the state will know or is involved."

    Comments (22)

    I am personally tired of this Dzamara nonsense. I mean who the hell is Dzamara? I didnt know him or his "protest movement" before he went "missing". Kushayikwa kwake hakunditadzise kudya sadza.

    Dj - 15 June 2015

    Dj muri duzvi, ndapedza

    citizen - 15 June 2015

    I am shocked by the post made by DJ. In all seriousness the disappearance of a fellow human being should be a concern to any right thinking person. I really do not care what Itai did or did not do but if our country allows these things to occur without any investigations then all of us including DJ are not safe. Unless of course DJ knows something about Itai's disappearance...

    Katiyo Tea - 15 June 2015

    dj dont be stupid.

    Dhidhi Muhondo - 15 June 2015

    Dzamara is safe somewhere and someone wants to make an issue out of it.The gvt has nothing to do with his whereabouts,the imperialist will target a very senior opposition leader to create an uprising so u must be careful u can be a target

    mike - 15 June 2015

    I think it is unbecoming for a sane mind to comment in bad taste sensitive issues like the disappearance of Itai Dzamara. I am an ardent admirer of zanu particularly president RGM but my heart hurts whenever i imagine what is going on in the minds of Itai's wife, and children, let alone his parents and siblings. if we cannot say something encouraging, pls lets be quiet. i think it is helpful to be responsible even when making comments on public fora like this one.

    tula - 15 June 2015

    May the good Lord be with Dzamara's family in this their darkest hour. The people responsible for this will at some time pay heavily for this.

    felix - 15 June 2015

    To be honest, am very much worried about the sons and daughters of Zimbabwe who went missing at the hands of the Smith regime. where are they? They are many, and @DJ, your sentiments are very correct. This nonentity by the name Dzamara is a mere waste of time and cheap propaganda by the puppets. Hazvinditadzise kudya sadza kana neniwo, because i only knew him through BBC hard talk, but here in Harare even the street kids do not know the idiot.

    democrat - 15 June 2015

    Aw please spare the emotional drivel....if Dzamara cared for his family he wouldnt have "occupied" Africa Unity Square, he would have been out in the streets looking for a way to feed his wife and child like the rest of us, unless of course he was being paid to do his "protest". And how many of you pouring out sympathy for Dzamari joined him in his protest...hapana kana one. Saka if you truly believed in His "struggle" then you too would have been in Africa Unity Square. Call me heartless all you want but you know what they say.."Kurumwa nechoku chera"

    Dj - 15 June 2015

    dj is a cio operative

    Bhoramusango - 15 June 2015

    DJ uri mwana wehure rakamitiswa neZanu pachigwishu. Dzamara ndibaba vane vana vanoda kuchengetwa. Chi CIO chava kukupengesa DJ anoridza mhata yamai vako

    mahwindi - 15 June 2015

    DJ Imhata muviri wese arikucompare nguva yehondo neuyu akatorwa tavakuzvitonga huku kudya mazai ayo nekuda kuchengeta iyo harahwa iyoyi inonzi bobo

    Matunzvi Emheni - 15 June 2015

    Far too many uneducated Zanu PF financed low level CIO clowns on here, who never lets the facts get in the way of a good Zanu PF propaganda story ! If Mugabe and Zanu PF were at all concerned with the rights of Zimbabwean blacks, they would do something positive about the 95% unemployment their disastrous policies have created, and the scandalous way they have elevated the 5% still in 'Work' to SLAVE status by refusing to pay them while threatening them with the loss of their 'jobs' if they refuse to work. The SA apartheid white supremacists would have nodded their heads in respect at such policies - especially Mugabe's latest plan to introduce the economic segregation of the poor black community through relocation to VENDOR TOWNSHIPS set up so the Zanu PF leadership can control and mug the dirt poor by demanding money dressed up as taxes!

    Th Black Aristocrat - 15 June 2015

    Ko vana Magaya nana Makandiwa havazvioniwo here izvi?

    jacob - 16 June 2015

    DJ: Dzamara had a right (protected by our own constitution) to sit in AU Square and protest as he did. The reason some of us didn't join him was becoz taitya hedu not becoz we did not believe in what he was doing and saying. Anyway the issue here is we want Dzamara returned immediately and unhurt becoz he did not commit a crime, if he did then let the justice system take its course. We do not want the law of the jungle yekuti if someone holds a different view from yours then you get rid of them aiwa taramba izvozvo. Dzamara may have been a nonentity to you but to his parents, siblings, wife, kids nesu tose who yearn for a free and democratic Zimbabwe he was a hero. Ngaadzoswe please!

    Mai maTwins - 17 June 2015

    DJ URIKUFONGORERA MUSEVE UNGAFARIRE KUDISAPPEAR KWEUMWE MWANA UTIKWANIRE NHARADADA

    Potonjere - 22 June 2015

    DJ uri mhata

    Kunokwedu - 24 June 2015

    Big up DJ ! For sure who the hell is that idiot known as Dzamara? MDC you stage-managed this and release your idiot now!

    MDC Mudzuri - 13 July 2015

    if you all beleive in ZINO IREMA you would be queit and prayerful for Itai's appearance coz we are now living in a weird world

    lorezo - 15 July 2015

    DJ is write Dzamara is protesting somewhere ari kuda kuona kuti vamhu vanoita sei.Achadzoka sokuenda kwaaita .Dai vanotaura vasingazivi kwaari vangadai vakanyarara.

    mike - 1 August 2015

    DJ is an imbecile, who is also a state agent and responsible for the disappearance of Dzamara

    rage - 23 September 2015

    wow, and you hear african blood vampires who kill their own saying lets leave the ICC before we quit ICC lets deal with the dzamara issue .

    truth - 16 June 2017

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