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Push for government to feed Itai Dzamara family

By Mugove Tafirenyika

Opposition MPs led by MDC vice president Nelson Chamisa, have moved a motion to have government support the spouse and children of missing journalist-cum-activist Itai Dzamara who was abducted in Harare more than a year ago.

Itai Dzamara’s wife Sheffra (right) and his brother Patson (second right) seen with Itai’s two children
Itai Dzamara’s wife Sheffra (right) and his brother Patson (second right) seen with Itai’s two children

In addition, the legislators also want Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo to investigate alleged acts of police brutality.

Dzamara has been missing since March 9 last year when he was seized from a hair salon in Glen View township while having a haircut.

“Now therefore Parliament calls upon government to chip in on the social welfare and support to the Dzamara family, particularly the wife and children as restorative and rehabilitative measures,” reads the motion.

The missing activist’s family accuses President Robert Mugabe’s government of involvement in the disappearance whose investigations have so far drawn blanks, according to the police.

In May this year, the Dzamara family released a horrifying and grotesque image which it claimed was of Itai taken from captivity by his alleged abductors.

At a media conference where the images were released, Itai’s young brother, Patson, claimed that the country’s feared military intelligence had been responsible for the missing social justice campaigner’s brazen abduction last year.

“Some individuals from within the evil establishment volunteered information regarding who abducted Itai Dzamara, why and where he was kept. The heinous act was executed by State security agents, in particular the military intelligence,” the emotional Patson said.

“Incontestable evidence was availed to us and I dare Mr Mugabe (President Robert Mugabe) and his surrogates to prove me wrong. They can’t, because this is the truth. They thought they would get away with this evil deed as usual, but not this time around. They pressed the wrong button.

“I cannot at this juncture state my brother’s fate in the hands of these gangsters but I can categorically inform you that Itai Dzamara was abducted by the military intelligence under the direct instruction and supervision of Zanu PF,” Patson said then.

Since his abduction last year Dzamara has never been seen or heard from, with civil society organisations, opposition parties and western powers demanding his release.

After his broad-daylight abduction, Dzamara’s wife approached the High Court in a bid to force the police and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) to search for her husband.

During the hearing, both the police and CIO denied knowledge of his whereabouts, with authorities saying that investigations into the abduction had hit a dead end.

Still, Judge David Mangota ordered the police and CIO “to do all things necessary to determine his whereabouts”, including advertising the case in State media.

Mangota also said detectives should work with Dzamara’s lawyers “to search for him at all such places as may be within their jurisdiction” and periodically report their progress to the court.

Meanwhile, Chamisa also moved another motion calling on Chombo to investigate police brutality and report findings to Parliament.

In the motion that is already on the National Assembly Order Paper awaiting debate, Chamisa said his motion was motivated by the emergence on social media,  of images and video footage of police officers beating up citizens expressing their constitutional right to protest.

Chamisa said the motion also came about with the knowledge that the Police Charter  rests on the settled principle of pro lege, pro patria, pro populi (for the law, for the country, for the people and that Parliament was concerned with human rights abuses “ and rule by law instead of rule of law instigated by the law enforcement agents.

“Perturbed that that the minister responsible for the police or the commissioner general have not made efforts to censure or discipline the perpetrators who violated the national constitution, this house now therefore, call upon the minister of Home Affairs to investigate the conduct of the police and report to Parliament, issue a public apology over the untoward conduct of some of the police officers,” Chamisa demanded.

Police have been accused of bludgeoning pro democracy and opposition members whenever they hold peaceful demonstrations.

Between July and September rights groups documented cases in which ordinary citizens accused police of brutally assaulting them during protests.

Rights group say more than 700 ordinary citizens were either arrested or brutally assaulted by police when they crushed demonstrations which had been permitted by the courts. Daily News