Zanu PF MPs’ stance on Dzamara angers activists

via Zanu PF MPs’ stance on Dzamara angers activists – The Standard March 20, 2016

HUMAN rights activists have criticised Members of Parliament for dodging debate on a motion to discuss the disappearance of democracy activist Itai Dzamara.


Zanu PF legislators last Wednesday spurned debate on the motion, which was introduced in the National Assembly by Kuwadzana East MP Nelson Chamisa.

Chamisa wanted legislators to call on the government to take responsibility for the up-keep of Dzamara’s family, as well as to step up efforts to investigate his disappearance a year ago.

Dzamara was abdu-cted by suspected State security agents at a barber shop in Harare last year and activists are of the view government’s lackadaisical approach in searching for him is tarnishing the country’s human rights record.

Zimbabwe Peace Project director Jestina Mukoko said Zanu PF legislators — who walked out of the House to ensure the motion did not go through — were failing to understand the sanctity of life, as well as the country’s Constitution pertaining to protection of citizens.

“The [Zanu PF MPs] behaviour is deplorable because the Constitution says every life is important, as well as Dzamara’s life and the next individual,” Mukoko said.

“All along people have been saying that they do not know where Dzamara is, but at least government should show commitment in trying to find him because it has been a year of pain and suffering for Dzamara’s family.

“I am saying this from a position of experience because I was once abducted and I know the pain that my family went through.”

Mukoko said she was shocked by some utterances coming from Zanu PF legislators on Dzamara’s disappearance.

“Most of them have been saying worrying things, and for MPs to get up there in the House and ask what is great about Dzamara, is shocking,” she said.

“It is the life of a Zimbabwean citizen that we are talking about and our MPs need to think before saying things.

“We have a Constitution that respects the right to life, but our MPs are rubbishing that right.”

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights programmes manager Dzimbabwe Chi-mbga said it was deplorable for MPs to dodge debate on Dzamara as Parliament was vested with powers to ensure that human rights were protected.

“What it means is that they are abdicating on their constitutional duties.

“When they walk out of debate, they are walking out on the people they represent.

“Walking out by some MPs seems to suggest that they know something about Dzamara’s disappearance,” Chimbga said.

“They should stay in the House to listen to Chamisa’s arguments and condemn the practice of forced disappearances.

“Zimbabwe has a history of forced disappearances, and shunning this debate results in MPs missing out an opportunity to discuss an important issue which can affect anyone.”

For two consecutive days over a week ago, the National Assembly failed to debate on the motion on the disappearance of Dzamara after failing to constitute a quorum of 70 MPs.

When Chamisa raised the issue again on Tuesday, Zanu PF MPs walked out, thereby blocking debate on the issue.
Chamisa alleged Zanu PF had agreed at a caucus meeting to evade debate on the issue.

Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust executive director John Makamure said failure to debate a motion of urgent public importance showed a lack of respect by MPs for the people from whom their authority to be in Parliament was derived.