By Professor Matodzi
Harare, July 14, 2015 – French Ambassador to Zimbabwe Laurent Delahousse on Tuesday used celebrations to mark French National Day to publicly plead for the release of missing pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara as western governments escalate demands for the government to locate him.
To elaborate his point, Delahousse emphasised his point by inviting the Dzamara family which was represented by Patson, a brother to Itai, the activist’s wife, Sheffra and other relatives and friends to commemorate Bastille Day, which is the name given in English-speaking countries to the French National Day, which is celebrated on 14 July each year. Delahousse along with the Dzamara family and some other invited guests from the corporate and civic society sector cheered to the health of the missing human rights campaigner as they had done earlier on with well-being of President Robert Mugabe.
Delahousse implored people who abducted Dzamara and are holding him incommunicado to return him so that he can reunite with his wife Sheffra and his two children Nokutenda and Nenyasha.
Dzamara, the leader of Occupy Africa Unity Square movement has been missing since 9 March when he was abducted by suspected state security agents from his Harare residence and has not been accounted for despite the police and other state security agents having committed to probe his whereabouts.
Through his Africa Unity Square movement, Dzamara together with other pro-democracy activists has been leading anti-government protests since last year under a peaceful civil disobedience programme shaped along the non-violent protests that toppled some leaders in North Africa in recent years calling for the resignation of the southern African country’s long time ruler, President Mugabe.
With family and friends increasingly apprehensive after four months passed without establishing his whereabouts, western governments recently criticised the government for its lackluster attitude in accounting for the missing pro-democracy campaigner.
Delahousse said although Zimbabwe had registered an improvement in its human rights situation, there were some “regrettable but limited incidents” of rights excesses.
Last week, western governments led by the European Union (EU) ganged up against President Robert Mugabe’s administration in pressuring Zimbabwean authorities to avail detailed probe reports in efforts to secure the whereabouts of Dzamara.
“The EU is deeply concerned about the continued lack of progress by the authorities in this case and recalls the legal obligation for the Zimbabwe authorities to provide regular and thorough progress reports on their search for Mr Dzamara, as ordered by the High Court,” reads part of the EU statement.
The EU implored President Mugabe’s administration to take all the necessary measures to ascertain Dzamara’s whereabouts, safeguard his well-being and accord him the full protection of the law.
“The EU reiterates its call on the Zimbabwean authorities to ensure that those responsible for the abduction of Mr Dzamara are brought to justice. The EU will continue to watch progress on this case closely. Human rights remain a pillar of all our bilateral relationships,” the EU added in a statement endorsed by the embassies of Norway and Switzerland.
The US and Australian governments also reiterated calls for the government to determine Dzamara’s whereabouts and bring those responsible for his disappearance to justice.
The human rights activists’ lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights say the Zimbabwe Republic Police which was ordered by the High Court in March to submit fortnightly progress reports have submitted “white washed” reports which are not of any significance to the Dzamara family.