By Professor Matodzi
HARARE, December 4, 2015 – Leading human rights campaigner Jestina Mukoko on Thursday appealed to tormentors who disappeared pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara to return him and allow him to reunite with his family.
Mukoko, a survivor of abduction, torture and enforced disappearances issued the appeal on Thursday as she marked the passage of seven years after she was disappeared and held incommunicado in 2008 by state security agents.
Dzamara, an iconic figure in Zimbabwe’s pro-democracy movement went missing in March after he was abducted by some unidentified men from a barber shop in Harare’s Glenview high density suburb. His family hasn’t heard from him since.
Mukoko, who is the director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), a rights monitoring group, was abducted from her Norton home on 03 December 2008 and was held incommunicado and subjected to torture for several weeks before she was charged with plotting to unseat President Robert Mugabe’s government and brought to court.
On Thursday, Mukoko bared all and said Dzamara’s plight is a cause for serious concern.
“Abductions/kidnappings have to stop they are inhuman. Thank you Lord for your sufficient grace, you revealed your power in my life in 2008. Today my prayer is over Itai Dzamara to be brought back to his loved ones, is that too much to ask?” questioned Mukoko.
In a judgment released years after her abduction, the Supreme Court chastised state security agents for torturing Mukoko in a bid to induce some confessions implicating her in a plot to unseat Mugabe’s administration, a charge which she denied.
Apart from Mukoko, the state security agents also abducted dozens other human rights and political activists including a two-year old minor, Nigel Mutemagawu who together with his parents were held incommunicado and tortured for several months before being charged with plotting to unseat Mugabe and his Zanu PF government.
Already, local and international human rights groups among them Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and Amnesty International including some western governments have expressed disappointment about the Zimbabwean authorities’ failure to account for the whereabouts of the freelance journalist-turned human rights campaigner and have challenged the government to escalate its search for the missing prominent rights activist.
Prior to the abduction in March, Dzamara together with his Occupy Africa Unity Square movement protestors had since last year been staging anti-government protests calling for Mugabe to step down from power for mismanaging the once prosperous southern African country.
The troubled southern African country is currently grappling with an agonising economic crisis including massive jobs losses and food shortages which critics say is proving to be the foe for President Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF party.