MISSING journalist, Itai Dzamara, who was abducted in March last year and has been missing since, is not the only citizen whose rights have been violated and, as such, it is wrong to place his case above all others, a Zanu PF MP has said.
Mutare Central Senator and Zanu PF Central Committee member, Judith Mawire, said it was shocking and disheartening that human rights activists were only focusing on the disappearance of Dzamara and yet there were a number of people who have been missing for years.
Senator Mawire said this during a Thematic Committee on Human Rights meeting with representatives from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR). The lawyers’ group representatives, Dzimbabwe Chimbga, Rose Hanzi and Maureen Shonge, were sharing the ZLHR State of Human Rights Report with the legislators.
“We have heard of so many people who have disappeared including women and children, but we don’t hear the same noise that you are making on the disappearance of Dzamara,” said Senator Mawire.
“Why him only? Is it because he was so popular and you are now ignoring some poor individuals with nothing to contribute to Zimbabwe?” she said.
Responding to the questions, Hanzi said sometimes her organisation would not be aware of cases of some people hence no action on such developments.
“We don’t discriminate; it doesn’t matter to us whether someone is rich or popular or not.
“Actually, our organisation represents all the people in the country, but what is important is for us to be provided with such information. Most of the cases that we have represented are actually from poor members of the society.”
Dzamara was abducted by suspected state agents in March last year from a makeshift salon in the high density suburb of Glen View. Since then his whereabouts and what happened to him is still unknown.
A number of Churches and civil society organisations country wide have organised prayer meetings and discussion forums focusing on the missing Dzamara. Prominent politicians such as MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, and former war veterans’ leader, Jabulani Sibanda, have attended some of the meetings.
Members of the Dzamara family, friends and ordinary Zimbabweans have also organised related events.
Western embassies have repeatedly expressed their concern on the Dzamara issue and emphasised that his case could further strain relations between their countries and President Robert Mugabe’s government.
Ahead of his disappearance, Dzamara held a series of demonstration in central Harare calling on “failed Mugabe” to step down. He was repeatedly beaten up by the police but still persisted with his protests.
Other people who have disappeared under Mugabe’s rule are Patrick Nabanyama and Rashiwe Guzha. Nabanyama, then David Coltart’s campaign manager, was abducted by war veterans in 2000. Guzha, who disappeared in the 1990’s, was a state intelligence officer.
Hundreds of civilians disappeared in the Midlands and Matebeleland regions during the 1980’s Gukurahundi killings which have been blamed on Mugabe and his inner circle.