Dzamara case: Citizens have reason to complain

THERE is a concerted effort by the state to pass off the “alleged disappearance” — as a state daily egregiously put it — of journalist-cum-activist Itai Dzamara as nothing out of the ordinary, suggesting instead it is a stunt calculated to ignite a revolt.

Candid Comment with Stewart Chabwinja

This is despite the fact Dzamara’s disappearance is not merely “alleged”, but a reality as his whereabouts remain a perturbing mystery since that fateful day he was abducted in broad daylight — March 9.

There are also claims the opposition, in cahoots with the West, is exploiting Dzamara’s disappearance for political ends steeped in the regime change agenda.

In any case, so goes the spin, people are in the habit of disappearing in other countries including the US and UK, rendering Dzamara’s disappearance quite mundane in the larger scheme of things.

But these apathetic attempts to trivialise and obfuscate his vanishing cannot stand up to the scrutiny of context and precedence.

Conveniently ignored by selectively amnesiac state officials is that Zimbabwe has a tainted human rights records in which citizens have disappeared, some never to be seen again, with evidence — circumstantial or otherwise — fingering state security agents. Many have been tortured, but orders by the courts to bring the culprits to book have been flagrantly ignored.

The likes of Captain Nleya, Tonderai Ndira, Rashiwe Guzha and Patrick Nabanyama, to name a few, are all believed to have met their end at the hands of state security operatives, a conviction fortified by failure by a rather competent police force to make headway in investigations.

It is a key responsibility of the state, through instruments that include the police, to protect its citizens and bring criminals to book. But in this case the cops appear to have little appetite for duty. A story carried by this paper a few weeks back suggested the police were shirking their responsibilities, as reflected through fortnightly progress reports.

That impression was buttressed by “full Dzamara probe details” published in a state daily yesterday, which only served to confirm investigations have hardly progressed beyond the elementary — the account being peppered with a heavy dosage of dissembling hearsay.

While it is the responsibility of investigating arms of government, not President Robert Mugabe, to establish the whereabouts of Dzamara, it would edify Mugabe’s diminishing stature to assure citizens — some of whom fear meeting a similar fate — that police would go the extra mile in establishing his whereabouts. But he has opted to remain mum, as he largely did following the Tokwe-Mukorsi disaster, giving the impression he couldn’t care less.

That opposition parties are exploiting Dzamara’s disappearance for political gain is a red herring. Any opposition worth its salt would latch at any opportunity that advances its cause and the Dzamara episode — until proven otherwise — appears to be another black mark on Mugabe’s administration.

In deference to the ordeal tormenting the Dzamara family, it is comely for fellow citizens to put themselves in their shoes, hopefully to avoid passing crass remarks.