It is eight months since activist Itai Dzamara was allegedly abducted and he has not been seen or heard of since. Dzamara’s wife, Sheffra, made an impassioned plea for his return on Monday, saying her family had been reduced to beggars because of the absence of its breadwinner.
There have been several calls for the return of Dzamara, all drawing blanks so far, but it is imperative that as ordinary Zimbabweans, we do not tire out from demanding his return.
We all have a duty to hold the authorities to account and that government upholds the rights of all individuals, including the right to life.
Edmund Burke famously said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”, hence we all have a civic duty to stand up and demand his return. It is not enough to mutter under our breaths and do nothing, we all have a voice and we should use it.
Many were not in agreement with the political route Dzamara chose, but this is not a partisan cause, rather it is a matter of principle. The government should guarantee the safety of every citizen, whether they support the ruling or opposition parties.
The same applies to the arrest of the Sunday Mail journalists last week. The newspaper has called us and other private media all sorts of names, but as a matter of principle, NewsDay and other media had to be united in one voice calling for their release and the decriminalisation of “writing falsehoods”.
Arrests of State media journalists are something of a rarity and this seemed only to be the preserve of the private media, but this was not a time to gloat, but rather to unite and show that once you fall foul of authorities, the tables are turned quickly.
Instead of narrowing in on our differences, it is important that we focus on what unites us as Zimbabweans and what we want to achieve as a country.
Dzamara may have thrown his lot with one political party. However, what matters and what is important now is that he is a Zimbabwean and every Zimbabwean’s life must be protected, whether we like that person or not.
We should not pretend that Dzamara’s disappearance is not our problem, because if he could be abducted and can go missing for this long, what guarantee does anyone have that they will not fall victim of the same circumstances?
We are not accusing the State and authorities of abducting him; rather we are imploring them to do all in their power to make sure he is found and brought back to his family.
To borrow from Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller and to make his quote more relevant to our situation, we can say: “When they came for vendors, we didn’t speak up, because we were not vendors. When they came for State media journalists, we didn’t speak out, because we didn’t work for the State media. When they came for Dzamara, we didn’t speak out, because we are not Dzamara. When they came for us, there was no one left to speak out.”
Thus, we all have a duty to speak for each other and protect each other. We owe it to each other as Zimbabweans.
We should not be defined by what we choose to say or who we associate ourselves with, but rather by the fact that we call Zimbabwe home.