Mugabe’s govt should account for Dzamara

via Mugabe’s govt should account for Dzamara – NewsDay Zimbabwe March 11, 2016

On Wednesday, abducted journalist-cum-human rights activist Itai Dzamara’s family, friends, human rights defenders and hundreds of protesters from different walks of life converged to commemorate the first anniversary of his disappearance in as yet unclear circumstances.

NewsDay Comment

Their concern that government was not taking seriously Dzamara’s disappearance should be shared by every right-thinking Zimbabwean, especially as we are heading towards the potentially-explosive 2018 decisive elections. What is certain is that more kidnappings of vocal anti-establishment protesters cannot be ruled out.

What has occurred in the past — including the abduction and brutal torture of former television presenter-cum-human rights activist Jestina Mukoko, the director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, Patrick Nabanyama and Paul Chizuze — will likely happen again.

If Dzamara could be “disappeared” in a time of peace with no trace for merely calling on President Robert Mugabe’s resignation, what more will happen during a decisive election given the history of brutality and bloodletting associated with his governing Zanu PF party?
Dzamara’s abduction flashes back memories of Nabanyama, who disappeared more than 15 years ago after being allegedly kidnapped by suspected war veterans and other Zanu PF apparatchiks.

These State-sanctioned abductions demand that all stakeholders put their heads together and take the fight against these heinous acts a notch higher for the good of every Zimbabwean. The message should be shared that it is not a crime to disagree with Mugabe or his wife First Lady Grace Mugabe. They are also humans and not some kind of gods, as Zanu PF would have us believe.

In fact disagreeing with the First Family does not necessarily follow that one is parroting opposition politics; it simply is a signfier of a mature democracy. Yet, Zanu PF and other State security organs believe the President and his wife are infallible.

How wrong they are! That is what democracy should be all about. It is not wrong for someone to call on a failed and ageing Mugabe (92), well past his sell-by date, to step down for the good of his country.

It is unfathomable that 12 months after his disappearance, Dzamara has not yet been accounted for. This is not acceptable. A government with all the State resources at its disposal cannot fail to at least have established what likely happened after a good one year. How can such a government guarantee the safety of Zimbabwe’s nearly 14 million people when it cannot account for just one man?

So far, the Zanu PF-led government has failed to exonerate itself from accusations that it could have played a role in Dzamara’s fate. Does that inspire confidence in voters who want their safety guaranteed? No.

We are aware that given the history of disappearances and abductions of people who dared raise their voice against Mugabe in the past, this is not likely to happen anytime soon — unless something drastic happens or nature intervenes, as it is always bound to do, eventually.

There is need to uproot the culture of State-instituted violence against its citizens who are guaranteed freedom of expression in the governance charter.

We appeal to all freedom-loving people of this nation to continue making noise about Dzamara. Dzamara must be brought back.

The international community must bring pressure to bear on the Zimbabwean government and ensure that whatever happened to Dzamara should not happen to anybody else.

Who knows, yesterday it was Dzamara, and tomorrow it could anyone else? So speak out and hold Mugabe accountable now!