from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – FIVE years after a Zimbabwean journalist and pro-democracy activist, Itai Dzamara, went missing, his whereabouts remain a mystery and his family is in agony.
A vocal critic of the then president -Robert Mugabe, he was abducted from a barbershop on March 9, 2015 outside the capital Harare.
He has not been heard from since five men suspected to be state agents (Central Intelligence Organisation) forced him into an unmarked vehicle.
Dzamara’s wife, Sheffra, has written a heartrending letter appealing to President Emmerson Mnangagwa to help find her husband.
Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa, joined the family in calling on the Zimbabwean authorities to conduct investigations into the activist’s disappearance.
“People do not simply vanish into thin air,” Mwananyanda said.
“We need to see an inquiry with findings that are made public, and suspected perpetrators brought to justice, as well as an end to the harassment and intimidation of activists and critics in Zimbabwe.”
Zimbabwe’s security forces had repeatedly harassed and beat up Dzamara before he disappeared.
It is believed he was forcibly disappeared as a result of his activism and outspoken criticism of the government.
He had called for Mugabe to step down and criticised his handling of Zimbabwe’s ailing economy.
Disappearances of opponents and critics were the hallmark of Mugabe’s 37 years in power.
He was eventually toppled in a military coup in 2017.
Mnangagwa assumed power and promised to uphold human rights but critics accuse him of retaining Mugabe’s iron fist.
Government critics and opposition members have increasingly faced harassment and intimidation.
A number of them have been slapped with treason charges.
– CAJ News