Today 9 March 2016, marks exactly a year after the disappearance of human rights activist, Itai Dzamara. Dzamara who led the Occupy Africa Unity Square campaign, calling for the resignation of President Mugabe over failure to run the country was abducted by suspected state agents at a barber shop in Glen View on 9 March 2015.
A year on after his abduction, his whereabouts remain unknown with the police giving unconvincing “assurances” that they will investigate his disappearance. Dzamara’s only crime was leading peaceful demonstrations in accordance with the constitutional provision which grants citizens the right to petition and demonstrates under section 59.
Cognizant of the fact that Zimbabwe is a nation that is founded on values and principles that respect the supremacy of the constitution which has provisions that speak to the rule of law and enjoyment of fundamental human rights and freedoms, the disappearance of Dzamara contradicts the same provisions which under normal circumstances must take or be given precedence.
On this day, Heal Zimbabwe expresses grave concern over the continued missing of Dzamara and other human rights defenders as it is a violation of the sanctity of life. The organisation remain concerned by the lack of swiftness in investigations on matters involving abductions particularly of human rights activists. On 19 June 2000, Patrick Nyabanyama, who was a MDC election agent in Bulawayo during the June 2000 parliamentary election was abducted by armed ZANU PF activists driving a white Mazda truck with no number plates. He was never seen again. Bulawayo Provincial Magistrate, Rose Dube, officially declared Nyabanyama dead on August 11 2010.
On May 13, MDC-T activist Tonderai Ndira was abducted from his home by 10 armed and yet to be named men in the morning of May 13, 2008 during the 2008 presidential elections. He was later found dead that month with shots in his body and multiple wounds. The list of people who have mysteriously disappeared to date shows that political tolerance in Zimbabwe is still at a record low.
The situation on the ground a year after Dzamara’s abduction paints a gloomy picture pertaining to the enjoyment of fundamental human rights that are enshrined in the constitution and the promotion of the rule of law. Heal Zimbabwe calls for a genuine, sincere and transparent national process of bringing closure and healing to the families of all abductees since independence. While that takes place, HZT reiterates the need for law enforcement agents to expeditiously uncover the truth around these disappearances and bring the perpetrators to justice. The organisation also calls for the intervention of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) to also consider forced disappearances as it embark on its mandate of bringing peace, healing and reconciliation in Zimbabwe.