Zim Activist Dzamara's Family Still Hopeful

The family of the missing human rights activist Itai Dzamara remains hopeful that the father of two will return unscathed.
Dzamara was abducted by suspected State agents on Monday last week and has been missing since then. 

The activist had been holding peaceful demonstrations demanding that President Robert Mugabe leaves office for failing to address the concerns of the people of Zimbabwe.

The demonstrations were running under the banner Occupy Africa Unity Square.

Itai’s brother, Patson described the missing activist as one “straight forward person and a sharp shooter.”

“If he doesn’t like something, he tells you that it’s nonsense straight up. He is a person who if he chooses to pursue a path, he pushes until the end,” said Patson.

He said the family was not opposed to his path (activism), as he had the democratic right to pursue it but had reservations about his safety.

“His wife, [had resisted] out of concern but after realising he was adamant, she co-operated and as a family, we are indebted to her as she had to bear the brunt of the outcome,” he said.

“I am still hopeful that one day I will meet my brother, I don’t know where and when. The worst is a possibility because knowing him, he is outspoken and unless they take his brains out he will continue doing whatever he was doing. We are praying against the worst,” he said.

Patson said as a family, they were thankful to those who were giving out solidarity messages but added that there were some who still thought his disappearance was stage-managed to give Dzamara political mileage.

The High Court ordered State organs to intensify the search for Dzamara after his wife approached the courts saying there was strong suspicion that he was abducted by State security agents.

His wife, Sheffra Dzamara said in her affidavit: “Despite the physical, emotional and psychological torment he has been subjected to by state agents, he has remained resolute and undeterred.”
Yesterday Sheffra was said to be too traumatised to speak to the media.

“Itai was the breadwinner and since he is no longer there Sheffra has to survive through help from family members. The couple has two children, a boy (7 years) and a girl (3 years) and the kids are equally traumatised,” Patson said.

“The boy has a bit of understanding of what is going on, but the girl does not understand. They keep asking Sheffra when their father is coming back.”

He said up to yesterday they were still clueless about Itai’s whereabouts but he said the ZRP was being cooperative and doing their best to investigate.

With his slogan ‘we are the people, we are the numbers, let’s go!’ Itai, now working with a group of youths calling themselves the National Youth Action Alliance (Nyaa) was rolling out demonstrations.

Last month, he delivered a petition signed by several people including MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC Renewal secretary general Tendai Biti calling for reforms.

He and his team sneaked into Parliament where they waved placards demanding Mugabe must go and they also staged lunch time street marches waving placards and blowing whistles shouting that Mugabe must leave office.

Political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya said the regime was running scared and fearing the public reaction to its failure to address the socio-economic challenges affecting the country.

“One thing that has unsettled them is the presence of opposition leadership in communities. The MDC-T leadership has been meeting the people in communities like Chitungwiza, Gweru and now Bulawayo.

Their presence coupled with demonstrations has sent shivers into the corridors of power because they can’t address the problems,” Ruhanya said.

MDC Renewal spokesperson Jacob Mafume described Dzamara as one man who could stand for his beliefs.

He said: “We have known the state to be a brutal state that resorts to that default setting when it wants to frighten and divert attention. It wants to create a siege mentality among the people so that people do not focus on its misgovernance. In short the leopard is failing to change its spots. The camouflage is wearing thin. They find it easier to govern a scared and fearful population than a happy and prosperous nation,” he said.

He also described Dzamara as “direct to his opinions, quick to judgement and set to his ways.”

“I met his relatives after the Mutoko bus accident and he was determined to do something and I offered to help. The thing is, he never sought to physically harm anyone. The emphasis was a peaceful protest and a desire for a better life,” Mafume said.

While many are trying to figure out what could have happened to Dzamara, others said his presence at the Zimbabwe Grounds at a rally addressed by MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai in Highfield last week could have prompted his abductors to target him.

Dzamara spoke at the rally where he called for mass action to unseat Mugabe


The Standard