By Lance Guma
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HARARE – Journalist turned activist Itai Dzamara is still missing nearly 48 hours after being abducted by suspected state security agents on Monday.
Despite swirling rumours on Tuesday that a body had been found near the Goromonzi turn-off, Dzamara’s brother, Patson issued the following statement;
“I am receiving several enquiries about the whereabouts of my brother Itai Dzamara and the reports that he has passed on. Nothing has reached us yet. No official communication has reached us yet. If anyone has information let us know.”
Dzamara’s wife meanwhile spoke to the independent VOA Studio 7 on Tuesday and demanded that the Mugabe regime “bring back my husband in one piece”.
The ‘Occupy Africa Unity Square’ protest leader was abducted from a barbershop in his neighbourhood by five men who forcibly shoved him into a white isuzu twincab.
Fellow activist Charles Nyoni, who is the secretary general of the “Occupy Africa Unity Square” movement, says the men approached Dzamara and accused him of stealing a cow before they grabbed him. Nyoni said efforts to locate him were proving futile as the police were professing ignorance over the issue.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai convened an urgent press conference in Harare where he expressed outrage at Dzamara’s abduction.
“Today is supposed to be my birthday and I never budgeted that on what was supposed to be my day of joy, I could end up talking about a morbid abduction and disappearance of an innocent citizen,” the MDC leader said.
“To the MDC family, his abduction and disappearance comes as a shock because at our rally at Zimbabwe Grounds on Saturday, he gave a solidarity speech in which he supported our call for action and protests against the deteriorating situation in the country.
“We are in no doubt as to the perpetrators of this abduction. We hold Mugabe and his regime responsible for this morbid and senseless act. The President, who is also AU and SADC chair, cannot preside over a country where innocent citizens get abducted and disappear,” Tsvangirai added.
In October last year Dzamara was arrested 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 arrested, assaulted and tortured several times for his ongoing protest.
In November Dzamara was 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 who disrupted their protest.
Last month Nehanda Radio had the privilege of interviewing Dzamara and asked him how he would like to be remembered: Below was his answer:
“For having made a contribution – to the best of my ability, genuinely and sincerely – towards the creation of a better Zimbabwe. Where people enjoy their freedoms and with dignity. Where leaders are accountable and answerable to the people. where the resources and wealth benefit and uplift the lives of all.
“Where elections are fair and credible contests of ideas and policies. Lastly, a Zimbabwe that coexists and competes with the rest of the world, favourably, viably and in harmony.”
Dzamara’s abduction bears similar hallmarks to the 2007 abduction and subsequent murder of former ZBC cameramen Edward Chikomba who was abducted near his home in the capital, Harare, by a group of armed men in a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Chikomba was found dead two days later near the industrial farming area of Darwendale, 80 kilometers west of Harare.
Chikomba was beaten to death, with sources close to his family suspecting he was blamed for leaking to the foreign media, footage of badly beaten opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who had just been released from police custody.
Dzamara’s friends, relatives, fellow activists and peace loving Zimbabweans will no doubt be hoping for a different outcome.
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