Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

5 years on…. Itai Dzamara’s wife petitions Mnangagwa over abduction

By Nyashadzashe Ndoro

Sheffra Dzamara, the wife of pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara, has written a letter to President Emmerson Mnangagwa appealing for his intervention in the matter of her husband who was abducted by suspected state security agents on March 9, 2015, and has not been seen since.

Sheffra Dzamara, wife of activist Itai Dzamara, holds a photo of her husband as her then 2 year old daughter looks up, and speaks to the Associated Press in Harare, Tuesday March 8, 2016, on the commemoration of International Women’s Day. Dzamara is pleading for the return of her activist husband Itai Dzamara who was abducted by suspected state security agents one year ago. (AP Photo)

Monday (today) marks five years since the disappearance Dzamara who went missing after he was abducted at a barber shop in Glen View, Harare.

In a letter she submitted at Mnangagwa’s office in Harare, Sheffra expressed her pain and that of their two children, Nokutenda and Nenyasha who are growing up without a father. 

In 2018, Nehanda Radio reported how Mnangagwa had ignored persistent requests for a meeting with the Dzamara family.

“Today is a painful day and marks 5 years since his disappearance and myself and his children still do not know his whereabouts. I once wrote you a letter in 2018 and did not receive response from your office. I then made that letter an open letter. 

“Today I write again to share my pain with you, the pain of a wife caught between hope or grief and the pain I still feel everyday because of not knowing the whereabouts of my husband.

Itai Dzamara being arrested at the Occupy Africa Unity Square demo
File Picture: Itai Dzamara being arrested at an Occupy Africa Unity Square demo

“I write to tell you the pain of children growing up without a father, a role model, friend and support pillar for the family.

“I’m writing to appeal to your office to resolve the case of Itai Dzamara. Tell us his fate. I need to know what to tell kids, who are growing up with the hope that their father is coming home. Everyday, I have to listen to Nenyasha who was 2 years old when Itai Dzamara disappeared telling me that ‘when my dad comes home, i want to show him what i have drawn in school,’

“She has his smile. I have to watch my son, Nokutenda’s anger knowing that the man who supported his sporting activities is not there to do so and his face when he sees other men running around with their sons at school.

“These are children who are also growing up knowing that the government took their father and they expect the government to bring back their father. I do not want my children to grow up with hate and anger against the government because they do not have answers.

“You might not know what Itai meant to his kids, but i do and live with the reality of his vacuum everyday. I live with these questions everyday Mr President and as a mother it really pains me that my children have been robbed of their father’s presence in their lives,” read the letter.

Zimbabwe's politician Morgan Tsvangirai, second left, joins Sheffra Dzamara, second right, wife to activist Itai Dzamara who was allegedly abducted by State security agents holds a placard calling for his return, while taking part in a demonstration to commemorate a year since his disappearance, in Harare,Wednesday, March, 9, 2016. One of Zimbabwe's main opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai who joined the march and the Dzamara family members said that they hold Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe responsible for the abduction of the activist. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
The late MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, second left, joins Sheffra Dzamara, second right, wife to activist Itai Dzamara who was allegedly abducted by State security agents holds a placard calling for his return, while taking part in a demonstration to commemorate a year since his disappearance, in Harare,Wednesday, March, 9, 2016. One of Zimbabwe’s main opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai who joined the march and the Dzamara family members said that they hold Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe responsible for the abduction of the activist. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Dzamara’s wife has urged Mnangagwa to intervene in the matter following the everyday desperation she faces trying to figure out what happened to her husband.

“President Mnangagwa, my level of desperation for Itai’s return has reached a point where whenever I’m walking in the streets of Harare and see someone who is mentally ill, I always check to see if it is not my husband Itai. when i realise it is not, i move from hope to despair.

“No person can go unaccounted for just like that. I believe someone in your government knows what happened to him. If the abductors killed him, give me his body, so that i can grieve and say here lies your father. With tears I appeal to you as President to help me get answers,” sheffra added.

Itai Dzamara
Itai Dzamara (Picture by Kumbirai Mafunda)

Dzamara began his one-man protest movement in 2014 and it was an incredibly dangerous goal given the cat-and-mouse games they would play with the police.

He used to sit in the Africa Unity Square, a tree-filled park in the centre of Harare, holding his sign, “Failed Mugabe must step down.”

He was a journalist and a human rights activist known for whistling lunchtime protests, during the days of the late former President Robert Mugabe.

It is believed that Dzamara was made a victim of suppression of dissenting voices during Mugabe’s regime.

Meanwhile, the European Union has called upon the government of Zimbabwe to shed light on the whereabouts of Itai Dzamara.

“Five years after his abduction, Itai #Dzamara remains missing. We call on Govt to shed light on his fate & serve justice, and to tackle all human rights violations decisively, in line with #Zimbabwe’s repeated commitment to human rights, freedoms & national healing,” the EU said.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe coalition on Monday said Mnangagwa’s government had failed “to walk the talk in terms of respect for human rights as evidenced by their continued silence on Dzamara’s continued disappearance.”

“Dzamara, through his Occupy Africa Unity Square (OAUS) campaign held demonstrations challenging President Robert Mugabe to step down arguing that the Zanu (PF) leader had failed the nation of Zimbabwe through misrule.

“On several occasions before his abduction, Dzamara endured the brutality of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) as the law enforcement agents tried to thwart his protests.

“Following his abduction, there has been local and international outcry over Dzamara’s continued disappearance with concern being raised over government’s lackadaisical approach to the issue and as CIZC, we hold the view that his continued disappearance is in itself a serious indictment on human rights in the country. 

“The failure by the current and previous administration to act on Dzamara is not surprising given Zimbabwe’s well-known record of mysterious disappearances and massive crackdown of opposition and civic society activists. 

“CIZC remains skeptical of government’s commitment to search for Dzamara. In 2016, Mnangagwa who was Vice President then, told the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva that Zimbabwe will actively pursue the search for Itai Dzamara and provide regular updates.

“In the same year a High Court order was issued prompting police to act and provide regular updates on Dzamara. President Mnangagwa’s public statements have however proved that respect for fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution is an alien principle to him and this is being worsened by the continued militarization of the Zimbabwean state.

“As CIZC we contend that it is obligatory upon authorities to abide by section 56 (3) of the country’s Constitution which stipulates that every person has the right not to be treated in an unfairly discriminatory manner on such grounds as their political affiliation or opinion.

“CIZC urges the government of Zimbabwe to ensure they create safe spaces for activists and walk the talk as far as tolerance to divergent views and opinions is concerned and above all, respect citizens’ right to life despite political standing. Nehanda Radio

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