The Power of One: Itai Dzamara the Force
By Sydney Chisi
OPINION – The period between October and December 2014 is one I want to quickly forget having been in Civil Society for the past decade and half. It was a season I witnessed one of the worst implosions post the new millennium.
Comrades turned against each other, battles moved from ideas to scathing personality clashes on blogs and social media platforms. Each and every fight had its own justification and no one wanted to move from one’s combative corner.
What made it worse was that we could not even agree on the national question and possible solutions post 2013 elections. We blamed Mugabe, NIKUV, Opposition political party leaders, donors and individuals and yet never bothered to introspect at our role in all this.
Fifteen years of fighting a regime that doesn’t care about its citizens, fifteen years of seeing neighbour being butchered for thinking unZANU (PF)-like. Fifteen years of writing proposals with the unchanging political narrative, yet the politics was changing everyday.
One is bound to get tired, brains tend to what boys from the ghetto term ‘Kustika’ meaning failing to think beyond what is happening. The problem is that we removed our eyes from the ball and started focusing on petty things and hurting ourselves along the way.
It was during that phase after helping the MDC-T with its 4th Congress elections that I began to appreciate what this ZANU (PF) government had done to communities and individuals in the 30 of the 35 years to make Nathaniel Manheru happy!
Having travelled the length and breath of Zimbabwe and seeing people who still have hope. Hearing narratives that were totally different from what we hear and talk back in the capital or from the comfort of out air conditioned offices, or from the then Kebbab restaurant.
The narrative was that of hope, it was of strengthening what they see as the only alternative platform to bring change in Zimbabwe given its track record.
I saw the very disturbing illiteracy levels amongst rural women, the poverty yet the energy to hold on through a very oppressive dictatorship and still anticipating that all will be well. . . someday.
It was during that period where I saw hope once again in the MDC-T members almost similar to that of year 2000, where I saw Civil Society disintegrating into a dark pit with no end in sight and ZANU (PF) imploding making the economy shiver, that I sat down with this journalist and editor of an online newspaper called News Leader.
This was Itai Dzamara the elder brother to Patson Dzamara whom I had interacted more with through his leadership and motivational books.
Itai became my new ‘baba Jukwa’ especially on the dynamics that were happening in the party whose congress elections I was supervising together with the ZCTU. Then from nowhere he called me and said “Mukoma am putting my pen down…I want action.”
That same day he made an official announcement on his wall “it is with regret dear readers that l announce the immediate suspension of our news and media services through The News Leader publication. That has been necessitated by my decision to stand up to an urgent and pressing national challenge and responsibility, l am embarking on right away. “ (13 October 2014).
And what happened later is for all to see and judge.
From the 9th of March, when Itai went missing the first 48 hours was engulfed with different emotions by comrades within civil society and across the political divide. Some doubted he was even abducted with some saying he was too MDC-T so he deserves it.
Some were labeled alarmists, and creating a dinosaur out of a lizard. Having shared with me his vision for National Youth Alliance for Action (NYAA), together with Job ‘Wiwa’ Sikhala at the new Kebbab, and later on driving to see Morgan Tsvangirai where he told the MDC-T president in no uncertainty terms that Zimbabweans have to unite for action, that he was going to his rally just as he would go to UMDC or ZAPU rallies if invited, to give solidarity to many citizens suffering under the leadership or lack thereof of Mugabe regime.
Against all odds, I saw Civil Society coming together again, at least as a starting point to look at the things the same way. I saw comrades moving away from their rooted corners to meet at the centre where the agenda was Itai Dzamara’s abduction.
I saw my good friend Taurai Everson apologizing “I took Dzamara’s abduction as a joke. Now I am really seeing the guy is really in danger. My deepest apology to all those I offended with my comments. My apology to the Dzamara family as well. Am really sorry.” (12 March 2015). I felt a sense of belonging, that this was the Civil Society bred within a culture of solidarity “injure one injure all.”
So the answer to my young brother Patson Dzamara yes it is the FORCE and not the PERSON. We walk about seeing this sad episode with eyes of hate, personality wars, partisan egos and all the negatives. We refused to even think of what makes us humane, what makes us family and what made us to meet Itai in the first place.
Did it have to take Itai’s abduction for us to remember the leopard does not change its spots because it spent its day in the mud. Does it take the events at a barbershop in Glen View 7 to be reminded of similar events in Mabvuku in 2008 when we last heard of Tonderai Ndira?
Do we even need another day more to realize and believe that a person is missing and we need to come together simply because Jestina Mukoko was away for 21 days and came back alive? Do we even need political parties to be our mouthpiece or centre for action, and yet we shout “WE THE PEOPLE”?
Itai’s abduction by alleged state agents, is evident enough to prove that we are dealing with a jittery regime that sees threats everywhere, including a boy from Mtoko blowing a whistle. It’s proof to civil society and all those who care to listen that the Zimbabwean crisis is not located in our political differences or ‘bond coins’ in our wallets.
The abduction of Itai tells us that the devil has awoken and is willing to devour those who will “stand up to an urgent and pressing national challenge and responsibility.” Itai saw this and acted on it.
We in civil society we see it and write proposals about it , document or hold press conferences. Not that there is anything wrong about it, but it needs to be accompanied by action that resonates with the vision to which we all claim we want to see.
My wish is making this the turning point of our relationships, of our vision, and of our quest to build a true democratic state that respects human life, dignity and the constitution. Can we as comrades in arms begin to see that we are all Zimbabweans whom if we don’t benefit from this struggle our children will be able to.
That those holding Itai today must know that Zimbabweans as much as they are peace loving something they might call stupidity or docility, they know what they want, and one fine day they will get it and that is good governance.
That what Itai believed in as he dropped his pen and left his news room desk for the Africa Unity Square bench will be realized in our lifetime. The significance of the power of one.
To Itai we are in your corner and wherever you are just know that for once post 31/7/13, Zimbabweans are once again being reminded who the real enemy is and who is the architecture of the crisis faced by millions of innocent citizens. Most pleasing is that Zimbabweans are ready to liberate themselves once more.
God Bless Itai