By Morgan Tsvangirai
PRESS STATEMENT – 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.
As a party, we fear for the worst.
The callous abduction of Itai Dzamara has come as a complete shock to me, to the MDC and to Zimbabweans at large.
Only yesterday, we heard he was abducted from a hair salon and driven away in an Isuzu vehicle by five unknown men. Late afternoon yesterday, I received a call from his wife, saying Dzamara had been abducted and the family could not find him.
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.
Only recently, the Vice President of the country was saying he was trained to shoot and kill. It is no wonder that with such reckless and misguided talk from the top leadership of the country, an innocent Zimbabwean is abducted in very suspicious circumstances.
We hold the State culpable. We hold Zanu PF responsible. We demand a full investigation and arrests of the culprits so that Zimbabweans can live in the comfort that we have a government that cares and takes seriously its responsibility to protect citizens.
The circumstances of Dzamara’s abduction are very familiar to the MDC family, which has lost many cadres in similar circumstance. Tonderai Ndira, Tichaona Chiminya, Beta Chokururama and many others have been abducted and in most cases found murdered. In 2008, many MDC activists were maimed, raped or murdered and seven years later, no single arrest has been made in connection with the crimes.
Today, in an almost similar script, Dzamara is abducted in broad daylight and that is why we fear for the worst. We thought this country had moved on and was past these barbaric and shameful acts. We thought we had moved to full civilization but it appears the leopard has remained faithful to its spots.
This is a morbid message to Zimbabweans, to SADC, to Africa and the broader international community that the demon is back; that violence remains very much part of our political culture.
We all know that Dzamara has been leading public but constitutional protests against the government, for which he has previously been brutally attacked by State security agents. For us, there is no wonder as to the identity of the people behind his abduction and disappearance.
Zimbabweans should join us in demanding that the truth be revealed about what has happened to this innocent man. We in the MDC demand nothing short of a full investigation and the immediate arrest of the perpetrators of this barbaric act.
Morgan Tsvangirai, President, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)