Prayers for abducted Dzamara

HARARE - Campaigners calling for the release of Itai Dzamara are holding a prayer session in Harare tomorrow to mark four months since the activist went missing.

This comes as Western embassies are also calling on authorities to step up investigations into his disappearance. Dzamara, a journalist-turned-activist who went missing after staging sit-ins demanding the resignation of President Robert Mugabe.

The prayer meeting, scheduled to be attended by former vice president Joice Mujuru and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, is the culmination of a series of events staged throughout the week to draw attention to what organisers claim is reluctance by the government to act.

It is also scheduled to be graced by ex-Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo and former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa.

Police last month stopped another opposition prayer meeting arranged to highlight the enforced disappearance of Dzamara.

The “Bring Back Itai Dzamara campaign” has received international support from most Western embassies but has been met with muted responses from African envoys. The United States and European Union have asked Zimbabwean authorities to investigate the disappearance of the journalist-turned activist.

Yesterday, the Australian Embassy in Harare said they were deeply concerned about Dzamara’s disappearance.

“Today marks four months since the forced disappearance of human rights activist and leader of Occupy Africa Unity Square movement, Itai Dzamara,” said a statement from the Australian Embassy in Harare.

“The Australian Embassy remains deeply concerned about the abduction of Dzamara.

“We reiterate our calls on the government of Zimbabwe to do all it can to determine Dzamara’s whereabouts, provide regular, comprehensive reports to his family and the public on the progress of its investigation, and bring those responsible for his disappearance to justice.”

A High Court judge has directed that a team of police detectives be deployed to work closely with Dzamara’s legal practitioners to search for him “at all such places as may be within their jurisdiction in terms of the law and report progress of such search to the Registrar of the High Court by 1600 hours every Friday fortnightly until his whereabouts have been determined.”

In a by-monthly update to the High Court, the head of Law and Order in the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Crispen Makedenge, said there have been no leads so far.

Four months ago, five unidentified men kidnapped Dzamara when they raided a barbershop near his Harare home and was then  bundled into an unmarked truck. Dzamara and a handful of colleagues wanted 91-year-old Mugabe to resign on the grounds that he had mismanaged the economy.

In October last year, Dzamara was arrested after delivering a petition at Mugabe’s Munhumutapa offices calling on the nonagenarian to resign.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said he holds “Mugabe and his regime responsible for this morbid and senseless act”.

 

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