BY MOSES MATENGA
THE wife of missing human rights activist, Itai Dzamara, who was abducted by suspected State security agents, has petitioned President Emmerson Mnangagwa to act and ensure the former journalist is accounted for five years after his disappearance.
Dzamara’s wife, Sheffra, handed a letter to Mnangagwa yesterday calling for action and accused the Zimbabwean leader, who took over from the late Robert Mugabe after a November 2017 military coup, of previously ignoring her calls to ensure there was action.
In the letter to Mnangagwa, Sheffra maintained that her husband was abducted by suspected State security agents and expressed concern that the Zimbabwean leader had ignored her other letter in 2018.
“I once wrote you a letter in 2018 and did not receive a response from your office. I then made that letter an open letter,” she said.
“President Mnangagwa, it’s now five years without knowing where my husband is or what happened to him. I am writing to appeal to your office to resolve the case of Itai Dzamara. Tell us his fate. I need to know what to tell my kids who are growing up with the hope that their father will be coming home,” she said.
Sheffra said she did not want her children to grow up with anger knowing that it was the government that made their father disappear.
“These are children who are also growing up, knowing that the government took their father and they expect the government to bring back their father. I do not want my kids to grow up with anger against the government because they do not have answers,” she said.
“No person can go unaccounted for just like that. I believe someone in your government knows what happened to him. If the abductors killed him, give me his body so that I can grieve, bury and get closure.
“With tears, I appeal to you, as the President, to help me get answers.”
Amnesty International yesterday said Dzamara’s family was stuck in “agonising limbo”.
Dzamara was a strong critic of the Mugabe administration before he was abducted on March 9, 2015 from a barbershop in Glen View, and was never seen again.
Amnesty International deputy director for southern Africa, Muleya Mwananyanda, said someone in the Mnangagwa administration was aware of what happened to the human rights defender.
“Imagine not being able to tell your children whether their father is alive or dead. Someone knows where Itai Dzamara is, but they have chosen to subject his family to five long years of uncertainty,” Mwananyanda said.
“Today, we join Itai’s family in calling on the Zimbabwean authorities to conduct a thorough, independent, effective and transparent investigation into his disappearance. People do not simply vanish into thin air. We need to see an inquiry with findings that are made public, and suspected perpetrators brought to justice, as well as an end to the harassment and intimidation of activists and critics in Zimbabwe.”
Amnesty International said under Mnangagwa’s new regime, the country remains a dangerous place to criticise the government, with security forces routinely using repressive laws such as the Public Order and Security Act, now called the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act, to prevent people from carrying out peaceful protests and voicing their criticism.
The organisation also called for the government to set up an independent judge-led Commission of Inquiry into the circumstances around Dzamara’s abduction, with powers to subpoena witnesses.
“The findings of any inquiry must be made public and those suspected to be responsible should be brought to justice in fair trials. The public with information to contribute to the commission through submissions must also be allowed to do so.”