CIVIC society groups in Southern Africa have piled pressure on Sadc to force its former chairman President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF government to intensify the search for missing rights activist-cum-journalist, Itai Dzamara.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
Mugabe stepped down as Sadc chairman on Sunday, and handed the reins to Botswana President Ian Khama.
Regional civic society groups, under the banner of Sadc People’s Summit, held their own parallel summit in Botswana, where they released a communiqué calling on Mugabe to intensify the search for Dzamara and pleaded with regional leaders to respect human rights.
“Deal decisively by ensuring that all member States strictly adhere to the promotion of human rights, good governance, the rule of law, as well as guaranteeing the safety and protection of human rights defenders, as they carry out their legitimate duties in the region,” part of the communiqué reads.
“Promote the existence of plural political systems, particularly multi-party and participatory democracy, where diversity is tolerated and citizens freely organise processes that are based on mass mobilisation and freedom to voice alternatives without fear of victimisation.”
The communiqué, handed over to Sadc, continued: “There is need for intensification of the investigation into the disappearance of Itai Dzamara by the Zimbabwe government”.
Dzamara has been missing for more than five months now with State security agents saying they had not yet received any leads on his whereabouts.
The police have offered a $10 000 reward to anyone with leads to his whereabouts.
Foreign diplomatic missions, opposition parties, religious groups and other pressure groups have accused State security agents of having a hand in Dzamara’s disappearance.
Dzamara disappeared after he led a solo campaign calling on Mugabe to step down.