Dzamara Family, Friends Defy Police, Stage Noon Prayer Meeting

By Professor Matodzi

Harare, 10 February, 2016 – Missing pro-democracy campaigner, Itai Dzamara’s family on Tuesday defied a heavy police presence at Africa Unity Square to conduct an emotional prayer meeting which marked exactly 11 months since the scribe’s abduction.

Dzamara, now viewed as iconic in Zimbabwe’s protracted struggle for democracy, was seized 9 March last year by suspected state agents at a Glen Norah barber shop he frequented for a haircut.

Patson Dzamara, who has led a media campaign for the release of his brother, said the family still held President Robert Mugabe’s administration accountable for his abduction and disappearance.

“We maintain that this (abduction of Itai) is the doing of Zanu PF and its state security agents,” said the younger Dzamara.

“They are responsible and they must be accountable. Itai represented an idea whose time had come. He started something whose time had come and no one can stop it.”

The prayer meeting was joined by Ben Freeth, a white former commercial farmer who has also fronted an international campaign against the seizure of white owned land in Zimbabwe without compensation.

Renowned cleric, Bishop Ancelimo Magaya led the prayer meeting attended by the Dzamara family and friends at a venue where the missing scribe began his protests.

Bishop Magaya challenged the government to guarantee the security of ordinary citizens and restore order in the troubled southern African country.

He also exhorted the local clergy to help fight injustices in Zimbabwe.

“The justice of God in heaven is what we want to see here on earth. The church is there to preserve the nation from decay.

“If Jesus was here on earth how would he have responded to Itai’s abduction and house demolitions? What is it that Jesus would have said?” said the fearless cleric, who has facilitated several pro-Dzamara prayer meetings in the past 11 months.

Tuesday’s prayer meeting was attended by Sheffra, Dzamara’s wife, his children, friends among them Terry Mutsvanga, Jerry Mugwenhi, Kumbirai Mafunda and Dirk Frey.

Before his disappearance, Dzamara, a father of two, had staged his campaigns under the “Occupy Africa Unity Square” movement since October 2014.

His peaceful protests were shaped along the non-violent protests that toppled some leaders in North Africa in 2011.

His disappearance without trace has also been condemned by the international community.

On Tuesday, the European Delegation to Zimbabwe said it remained both concerned and disappointed by the lack of progress in determining the whereabouts of Dzamara.

It reiterated that it was the responsibility of Zimbabwean authorities to ensure that justice was served to the missing activist.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said it was dissatisfied that the police and state security agents had not fully complied with a court order issued in March last year to investigate and make frequent updates to his family and lawyers on progress.

“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,” ZLHR said in a statement.

ZLHR also expressed concern over the failure to locate Paul Chizuze and Patrick Nabanyana who have been missing for several years without being accounted for.

“… So traumatising is the painful reality that the government and all the powerful State security organs cannot account for the whereabouts of Itai, Paul and Patrick.

“The situation of these people is not only disheartening but also shocking as they remain unaccounted for several years and months after they were disappeared.”

President Mugabe’s government has fared badly in upholding and promoting human rights and this has resulted in the imposition of targeted sanctions among the Zanu PF party leader and members of his inner circle.

The Zimbabwean leader denies any wrong doing.