HARARE – While Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi is in London busy trying to convince prospective tourists that all is well in Zimbabwe, police in central Harare savagely assaulted a journalist who was staging a peaceful demonstration.
Itai Dzamara who has been leading the “Occupy Africa Unity Square” protests for several weeks now was on Thursday admitted to a Harare hospital alongside human rights lawyer Kennedy Masiye after both sustained serious injuries from brutal assaults by more than 20 police officers.
According to a witness the police arrived at the square around 11:30. The senior officer ordered the activists to leave and then immediately started beating them.
“Dzamara was surrounded by 15 police officers, who prevented him from leaving. They beat him all over the body. Two baton sticks broke during the assault and the police team handcuffed Dzamara,” the witness said.
“They continued beating him while tearing his belt and trousers open. Tichaona Danho and Tafadzwa Charumbira refused to leave and insisted they wanted to stand by Dzamara. They were also beaten up.
“Dzamara lost consciousness and the beating stopped. Lawyer Kennedy Masiye arrived to attend to the matter. They immediately attacked Masiye, beating him up with baton sticks and breaking his glasses. They chased him away.
“The police team then ordered Danho and Charumbira to carry Dzamara out of the park. The police team continued to beat the unconscious Dzamara and the two colleagues carrying him for 500 meters away from the park.
“Dzamara spent about 45 minutes on a tarmac until a vehicle came to pick him and took him to hospital,” the witness added.
Dzamara was arrested over three weeks ago (Friday 17 October) after he called on Mugabe to step down in a petition that was delivered to the presidential Munhumutapa Offices. Africa Unity Square is a few blocks away from Mugabe’s offices. Since then he has been assaulted several times for his ongoing protest.
What has been shocking though is the silence of many human rights organisations and NGO’s in the country.
Former student leader and political commentator Freeman Chari said “If each of the so-called Civic Organizations listed below were to supply just one member to join Itai Dzamara at the Occupy Africa Unity Square demonstrations I bet we would be free. But then the Crisis is feeding a few select!”
Chari proceeded to list over 100 such organisations that are operating in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile while Dzamara and his colleagues are being assaulted for demonstrating, factional battles within the ruling Zanu PF party have seen rival supporters freely demonstrating with police escorts in tow.
Several demonstrations against Vice President Joice Mujuru, planned by a rival faction in Zanu PF, have also been allowed to go ahead with police escorts.