Former Prime Minister and Movement for Democratic Change leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, joined the Dzamara family and thousands of politicians, civil society activists and ordinary Zimbabweans in commemorating a year after pro-democracy activist, Itai Dzamara of the Occupy Africa Unity Square, was abducted by unknown assailants in Harare.
The commemorations began late in the morning at Africa Unity Square in central Harare with family members, activists and politicians, mostly lawmakers from the Tsvangirai MDC formation, singing and dancing calling for the state to find Dzamara.
Shortly before the march began, Tsvangirai addressed the gathering and accused the Zanu PF government of abducting citizens that had different opinions with the ruling elite.
He said forced disappearances must stop immediately and government must account for all missing people like Itai Dzamara.
“As we remember Itai’s disappearance all we are calling for is let’s put a closure to Itai’s case, let’s have the finality … Is he alive, is he dead? We just want to know the finality of it and I am sure for all of us it is one thing that we will demand this government and we will hound this government for ever and ever until they bring Itai to us dead or alive,” said Tsvangirai.
He said it was disappointing that the government was now afraid of its citizens, hence its alleged abduction of those with different opinion.
“Itai Dzamara’s disappearance represents the unacceptable face of this regime, the unacceptable face of a government that just embarks on abducting people just because they have a different view.”
Former Zanu PF lawmaker and Youth Advocacy for Reform Democracy director, Themba Mliswa, concurred with Tsvangirai adding that Zimbabweans must fight for their rights.
Mliswa appealed to lawmakers to defend people’s rights noting that he only realized the importance of human rights when he was kicked out of the ruling party.
Mliswa said his organization stood by the Dzamara family. “How many Zimbabweans believe in what we are doing for Dzamara, if you cannot be here today are you then prepared to continue fighting?”
Senate human rights thematic committee member, Senator Michesk Marava, said the Dzamara family should know that the nation was behind them.
“The Dzamara family should stay put, they should stay quiet, and they should just watch the job being done by Zimbabweans as is what is happening right now,” said Marava.
Political activist, Tendai Lynette Mudewe, said the commemorations were successful and such activities must be held regularly until Dzamara has been found.
“We would want to urge our partners Occupy Africa Unity Square and the Itai Dzamara Trust to keep on having these activities to put pressure on the government,” said Mudewe.
Family representative, Patson Dzamara who led the march together with Tsvangirai throughout the city to Rotten Row and back to Africa Unity Square, said the family will not tire until his brother is brought back home.
Tsvangirai joined the procession up to Angwa Street before breaking off to pursue other business at his offices.
Itai Dzamara Trust chairperson, Bishop Ancelimo Magaya, called on the government to stop the suspected abduction of citizens and ensure that they are safe as required by the constitution.
Dzamara, a former journalist and pro-democracy activist, was abducted by suspected state security agents and up to now there has been no trace of him. The High Court ordered the state to look for the missing activist and submit regular reports to relevant authorities.
As the commemorations were taking place, Zanu PF lawmakers were caucusing at the party headquarters. Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo could not be reached for comment.
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently told the National Assembly that his party and government were concerned about Dzamara’s disappearance but the family says they hold them responsible for his abduction.
Meanwhile, in statement to mark one year of Dzamara’s disappearance, the United States Embassy in Harare said it remains deeply concerned about Dzamara’s whereabouts and wellbeing, noting that Zimbabwe should fully investigate cases of politically-motivated violence and abductions to ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted and victims receive justice.