Yesterday marked 11 months since the disappearance of activist Itai Dzamara and fellow Zimbabweans, we, have let him and other activists down in the fight for democracy.
It is a blemish on the conscience of all Zimbabweans that a person of Dzamara’s stature can go missing for all these months without any trace.
It is an indictment on the collective security and justice system that almost a year later there is still no mention or trace of what could have happened to Dzamara.
There is a feeble and jaundiced thinking from some State actors who have claimed that people across the world go missing daily and why should the government be held accountable for Dzamara’s disappearance.
The simple answer is that in most cases, across the world, none of those that go missing would have stood up to the government and challenged leaders to step down.
While the State may be indifferent on Dzamara’s whereabouts, the sad reality is this will come back to haunt them, as there are already moves to block funding from the International Monetary Fund unless authorities can give answers on the missing activist’s whereabouts.
Without necessarily apportioning blame on the government, unfortunately a number of fingers are pointed at them because of the circumstances that preceded Dzamara’s disappearance, meaning the authorities have a duty more than most to ensure his safe return.
It is an individual decision to agree with Dzamara’s actions, but Zimbabweans should all have stood up in one voice and in unison demanding answers and helping in the search for him.
After almost 36 years of independence, it is abominable that someone should disappear because he dared express a view that was contrary to the prevailing or ruling sentiment.
If we are to go back to the founding principles of the liberation struggle, then we should be appalled that Dzamara’s only crime was that he dared stand up against the government.
We are certain that real freedom fighters and the authors of our Constitution, in guaranteeing freedoms of speech and association, had the likes of Dzamara in mind — that Zimbabweans have the democratic right to demonstrate and picket.
With the anniversary of his disappearance on the horizon, it is time we demanded that he be returned or at least know what happened to him.
It is not enough to just sit and sympathise, but we all have a role to play in ensuring that such fundamental freedoms are protected, whether to benefit Dzamara or anyone else.
NewsDay has also played a prominent part in demanding the return of Dzamara, as we, for weeks, ran a campaign calling for his return and counting the number of days since his disappearance, hoping this would touch the conscience of his abductors.
While our efforts have so far not yielded results, it does not mean we should stop, but rather it should embolden us to continue fighting for his return.