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Activist Dzamara Missing 11-Months But Family Remains Hopeful

Sheffra Dzamara remembering her husband with members of Occupy Africa Unity Square in Harare on Friday. Itai Dzamara turned 36 Friday. (Photo: Occupy Africa Unity Square)

Eleven months have passed since the disappearance of human rights activist Itai Dzamara, but his family's conviction that he'll return to them one day, alive, remains resolute.

Dzamara, who led the daily Occupy Africa Unity Square campaign in Harare, which called on President Robert Mugabe to step down due to the country's deteriorating state, was dragged out of a barber shop in his neighborhood, on March 9, 2015, and has not been seen since.

While no one has claimed a hand in his disappearance, including the government which has professed ignorance of his whereabouts, many believe Dzamara was taken by agents of the dreaded Central Intelligence Organization (CIO), because of his open dissent against the country's president.

Marking the 11-month of his disappearance, Tuesday, the European Union issued a statement expressing disappointment and concern about the government's lack of progress in searching for the journalist-cum activist.

In the statement, which the EU had been issuing monthly since Dzamara's disappearance, it called on “authorities to ensure that justice is served.”

Another statement issued by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) also noted with concern, the continued disappearance of Itai, a father of two children, despite a court mandate for police to keep up the search for him.

“[ZLHR] is saddened to note that while in March 2015, High Court Judge Justice David Mangota issued an order directing authorities to investigate, establish his whereabouts and update his family and lawyers on progress, this has not been fully complied with. ZLHR remains very concerned that probe reports submitted by the ZRP as ordered by the High Court in March 2015 show very little progress if at all.”

Ordinary Zimbabweans, politicians and activists joined with the Dzamara family today at the Africa Unity Square to pray for Itai’s safe and immediate return.

Dzamara’s wife Shefra told VOA she and her children remain hopeful for her husband's safe return. She said the children remain her husband's constant worry as they continuously ask about their father.

Interview with Shefrra Dzamara, Wife of Missing Activist, Itai Dzamara
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“They are still asking and you can see that the kids really miss their father, they’re still asking,” said Sheffra. She said though they are not receiving many outside donations, the Dzamara family has been supporting her and the children.

Dzamara’s brother, Patson,who recently launched his new book, "Forced to Fight" which chronicled the story of his missing brother, echoed his sister-in-law, saying the family is optimistic of Itai's return.

Interview with Patson Dzamar, Brother of Missing Activist Itai Dzamara
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“In as much as we are going through the pain and the grief, we are also still holding onto hope.” He said as a family they believe that one day, and sooner than later they will be reunited with Itai.