No to enforced disappearances — ZimRights

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Itai Dzamara was a Zimbabwean journalist who left the pen for activism. In October 2014, Dzamara hand-delivered a petition to the late former President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe at his Munhumutapa Offices asking him to step down immediately for failing to govern the country.

Dzamara then said, in his petition he had asked the now late Mugabe to pave way for a process of engagement involving all national stakeholders, towards the establishment of a new administration that would run the country better.

Dzamara began the “Occupy Africa Unity Square “ campaign with some activists who shared his quest and call for a better Zimbabwe.

Despite staging a peaceful demonstration and exercising their freedom to demonstrate and petition as enshrined in Section 59 of the Constitution, state authorities targeted this group of activists. On several occasions, Dzamara and the OAUS group were brutalised by the State.

On the morning of March 9, 2015, Dzamara was abducted in broad daylight by five unidentified men while at Deketeke barber shop in Harare’s Glen View 7 high-density suburb. He remains missing to this day.

In March 2015 the High Court ordered the police to look for the missing activist. In March 2018 the Zimbabwe Republic Police indicated that they were looking for Itai Dzamara. Five years six months since his disappearance, the nation, together with the Dzamara family still await information on what the police investigations have yielded.

Could it be mere incompetence or lack of political will? The jury is still out.

Suffice that he pressed for accountability from public authorities in Zimbabwe and for that, his two children Nenyasha and Nokutenda, much grown now than when he left them, and his anxious wife Sheffra have had to spend five agonising years without knowing where he is or what happened to him.

Zimbabwe is a party to international statutes that prohibit enforced disappearances. On its part, the peoples charter, our own Constitution, in Chapter 4 —— the Declaration of Rights has a wide array of salutary rights among them the right to life section 48, right to personal liberty Section 49, rights of arrested and detained persons assuming there is conduct founding a crime section 50, and the right to human dignity Section 51. Section 52 speaks of the Right to personal security, Section 53 freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the right to administrative justice Section 68. Failure by the government to account for the whereabouts of Dzamara trashes all these rights.

Dzamara’s young children need their father who was the breadwinner. His late brother Patson who fought both the Mugabe and Mnangagwa administrations to account for his brother has died without knowing what happened to his brother.

Sekuru and Gogo Dzamara need their son. Zimbabweans need respect for human rights and reassurance of personal security.

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