We Betrayed Itai Dzamara

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Fearless former journalist , Itai Dzamara dissappeared after calling for former President Mugabe to step down.

By Evans Muranganwa

It is now 3 years since the disappearance of Pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara. Looking at this gross human rights abuse I still believe  that citizens also let the missing Itai down. When Dzamara  founded the Occupy Africa Unity Square, where together with his comrades they would picket the  Africa Unity Square garden. Many dismissed them as a bunch of mad men, for others they thought it was a fundraising project by the group as no one would openly defy the then President Robert Mugabe and further more the joining of the white activist Dirk Frey made the suspicion true for many.

So daring was Itai Dzamara, such that he hand delivered a petition to President Robert Mugabe in 2014 when the prevailing economic conditions  by then was not yet so bad. Many questioned such a brave stance. Fellow journalists were the other critics that doubted Itai’s new found manoeuvres saying he was on a money-making venture. As  a young journalist I would hear senior journalists talking about how the missing journalist would ‘cook’ stories so they thought he was not sincere in his pro-democracy activism as well.

Scribes were not interested in amplifying Itai’s   call then and it was evident when he was abducted that many people did not know much about this fearless cadre. Even when the news of his abduction was relayed , many journalists still believed that Itai was stage managing his disappearance to ‘entice’ sympathisers to pour in funds in a trust which he will benefit from after  appearing back. Zanu PF sympathiser Energy Mutodi ran with this rumour and the state media made a meal out of it. As a result,  people believed the propaganda and I bet very few took his disappearance seriously.

Patson Dzamara who is brother to the missing activist was not spared from the accusation of stage managing the journalist-cum-activist’ abduction. Allegations were levelled against him for propping a ‘fake abduction’. Others believed that he was on a self-aggrandising project and knew where his brother was. All this hullabaloo made the search for Itai an elusive one.

Mark Chavhunduka and Ray Choto were held captive by the army for several days for writing about an alleged coup plot during the 1998-1999 DRC war but the pressure from the media and international community led them to be released. When Jestina Mukoko was abducted it was through intense probing and inundated calls for her release that led her to be freed. Comrades ,on Dzamara I  think we should have done better.

The November event when Mugabe was forced to resign could have seen people singing praises to Dzamara ’s dream but placards emblazoned with Ngwena, Chiwenga, Major General S.B Moyo and even the late Morgan Tsvangirai  dominated and Itai were no way to be found. Last month, a paltry crowd gathered to mark the  3rd anniversary  of his disappearance and it was disheartening that many looked unperturbed with the purpose of the gathering. Honesty, we all betrayed Itai Dzamara.

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