THE unfortunate disappearance of journalist and pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara, who was reportedly abducted from a shopping centre in Harare by yet unknown assailants on Monday is extremely unfortunate and demonstrates that Zimbabwe is still far from being civilised and democratic.
One wonders how President Robert Mugabe – currently chairperson for both Sadc and the Assembly of the African Union Heads of State and Government can preside over a country and a ruling Zanu PF party that does not believe in freeness of speech of its citizens.
Indications are that Dzamara was kidnapped by five men at Glen View 7 shopping centre in Harare while he was coming out of a barber shop. These could not just be ordinary people, but could be linked to either Zanu PF or government security agents.
Dzamara has over the last few months been demonstrating against Mugabe’s regime and chances are high that Zanu PF apparatchiks and State security agents could be behind this heinous act, in the hope that other likeminded people could be deterred especially as MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai is coalescing with other democratic forces to demonstrate against the economic collapse in the country.
What is even chilling are the circumstances under which Dzamara was abducted, which in many ways mirror the way in which many of the MDC-T’s party activists including Tonderai Ndira, Tichaona Chiminya and Beta Chokururama – were treated by the same intolerant regime. It is hoped that while many of these ended up dead for daring a criminal regime to shape up or ship out, Dzamara will not meet the same fate.
The seizure is also a sad reminder of the dark era when Zanu PF’s thuggish politics prevailed and suppressed people’s views about the collapse of the economy. Mugabe’s regime has increasingly become autocratic such that it does not tolerate any kind of opposition whatsoever.
What is disturbing is Zanu PF and government’s deafening silence over the kidnapping. This makes a mockery of the country’s so called democratic system.
Yesterday, Tsvangirai accused Mugabe and his party of employing dirty tactics on those fighting the regime.
Now Zanu PF’s muteness seem to confirm that this autocratic regime could have perpetrated this deed and should be held accountable for such a morbid and senseless act. Surely, Zimbabwe cannot afford such barbaric acts. It must lead by example.
Dzamara could have been abducted as punishment for giving a solidarity speech at the MDC-T rally on Saturday in support of the MDC-T’s call for action and mass protests. It’s not that difficult to read between the lines and establish who is behind the abduction.
It is important that government should distance itself from such dastardly acts against citizens airing their views about how they are being governed. The country’s new governance charter guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of expression, so why would one want to stifle disgruntled voices.
Such acts are cruel, inhuman and degrading and also a violation of the populace’s human rights.
Dzamara has since last year led anti-government protest under a peaceful civil defiance project Occupy Africa Unity Square Movement at the heart of Harare.
It is worrisome especially when those in power no longer tolerate divergence of opinion. Zimbabweans have every reason to fear for the worst given many others have been killed for daring Mugabe and his Zanu PF before.
It is time Mugabe allows divergent views among the citizens for the better of the country. He must be accountable for whatever will happen to the journalist and many others whose voices have been suppressed by threatening them with death.
Zimbabwe still needs the international community to turn around its economy. Hence, if Zanu PF is serious this is not the time to employ this kind of politics 35 years after independence.
The President must be held accountable and release the journalist as it is an assault to people’s civil liberties.