Itai Dzamara

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Itai Dzamara
Itai Dzamara
Born Itai Dzamara
(1979-08-07)August 7, 1979
Disappeared March 9, 2015 (aged 35)[1]
Glen Norah
Nationality Zimbabwe
Education Highfield High SchooI, Mbizi Primary SchooI
Occupation
  • Journalist
  • Political activist.
Spouse(s) Sheffra Dzamara
Children Nenyasha Dzamara, Nokutenda Dzamara

Itai Dzamara is a Zimbabwean journalist and political activist known in Zimbabwe mostly for his Occupy Africa Unity Square campaign against the government of President Robert Mugabe. He became famous through his hand delivered petition to the president of Zimbabwe and the Occupy he began soon after. On the morning of 9 March 2015, Dzamara was abducted by five unidentified men while at a barber shop in Harare's Glenview suburb.

On 30 May 2016, Dzamara's brother Patson Dzamara revealed at a press conference that Itai Dzamara had been abducted by military intelligence. He also released a picture showing Itai Dzamara in captivity which he said he'd been given by insiders of the military intelligence.

Background

Dzamara was born on August 7, 1979 at AlI Souls Mission in Mutoko.[2] He is married to Sheffra Dzamara and the couple have two children, a son named Nokutenda Dzamara and daughter Nenyasha Dzamara.

Educational Background

Itai attended Mbizi Primary SchooI in Highfield before moving to Highfield High SchooI for his ordinary and advanced level studies. He studied journalism and mass communication at Christian College of Southern Africa in 1999.[2] He also studied business and economic journalism and as of 2014 he was said to be studying Law.

Dzamara and the Africa Unity Square Occupation

Dzamara and colleagues occupying the Africa Unity Square
Itai Dzamara advocated for the occupation of the Africa Unity Square in Harare. This place is located on the heart of the Harare city centre adjacent the Parliament Building. According to Dzamara, the occupation of the square was a way of communicating dissatisfaction in the country's leadership particularly president Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF government.[3]

Dzamara said up to 50 people made themselves available and openly grouped with them as they occupied the square, starting from around 9am in the morning. The Zimbabwe Republic Police deployed almost 70 members in heavy riot gear.[3] The Africa Unity Square in Harare is a few blocks away from the offices of the president and this made the occupation a potential security threat. After the occupation, Dzamara wrote; “we occupied Africa Unity Square today, yet again forced the state to respond, and, yet again, demonstrated our goodwill by agreeing to negotiate. We are the people! We are the numbers!" [3] Those that gathered with Dzamara at the square said they wanted a response from President Mugabe, to the demands for him to admit failure, step down and pave way for a process towards finding a new national plan for governance and leadership.[3]

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The Petition to Mugabe

Itai Dzamara wrote a letter to president Mugabe requesting him to retire from office. He hand delivered the letter to the President's office at Munhumutapa Building in Harare. According to him, the petition to Mugabe encouraged him to step down immediately and pave way for a process of engagement involving all national stakeholders, towards the establishment of a new administration that takes over, to manage the country and prepare for fresh elections.[3] After being sent to several offices at Munhumutapa Building, he was later on released after having been advised not to go through with his plans. ."[4]

Detention

After going back to the president's office, Dzamara and his two colleagues were taken to a holding area where armed police officers watched them carefully. Dzamara wrote that the intelligence officers from the president's office regarded them as high profile suspects and they deserved high level security. They were transported to the Harare Central Police Station where they were immediately taken to the the underground holding bays."[4] Senior police officers came one by one quizzing Dzamara about his agenda of occupying the Africa Unity Square. They warned him of the devastating consequences of the move but he remained adamant.[4]

Beating by The Police

The final episode of the "Occupy Africa Unity Square" demonstration ended sadly for Dzamara as he was severely beaten by the Zimbabwe Republic Police support unity force which was deployed in full force. Dzamara was beaten together with his fellow activists and his lawyer. He was taken to a local hospital where he was given treatment. A few hours after he was admitted into hospital, the social media was awash with photos of Dzamara lying unconscious after the beating at the hand of the police.[5] He shocked the people when he started posting articles on his Facebook page called The News Leader encouraging the people to continue with the peaceful demonstration against he Mugabe government.[6] He warned the people not to engage in violent revenge against the police or the government.

The Abduction

On the morning of 9 March 2015, Dzamara was abducted by five unidentified men while at a barber shop in Harare's Glenview suburb. According to Dzamara's wife Sheffra Dzamara,
"I knew something was wrong when I noticed two cars going up and down our road. Every time they went past our gate, they slowed down and peered into the yard. They went back and forth five times. This was on the Thursday before Itai disappeared."
Dzamara's wife also believes that Itai was abducted by state security agents as she said in an in interview that,
"The authorities felt that Itai was a threat. They became afraid that people were starting to support his thinking and that this would cause trouble for them. So, they decided to remove him from the picture. Those who took him know that everything is not well in Zimbabwe and that eventually people would have stood with Itai and supported his cause."
[7]

Picture Gallery

Legacy

Dzamara won admiration from Human rights activists and opposition political parties who sympathised and supported his move. He was credited for his firm and his non-violent approach to politics.

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References

  1. Missing Person Appeal, Kubatana Facebook page, Published: 25 Mar 2015, Retrieved: 13 May 2015
  2. 2.0 2.1 'Occupy Unity Square' activist speaks from his hospital bed, Bulawayo 24News, Published: November 10, 2014, Retrieved: April 2, 2015
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 , Journalist continues with ‘Occupy Africa Unity Square’ protest, "Nehanda Radio", published:21 Oct 2014,retrieved:21 nOV 2014"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 I. Dzamara, Occupy Africa Unity Square: Dzamara's interrogation, The Daily News, Published:19 Oct 2014, Retrieved:21 Nov 2014
  5. , Itai Dzamara who hand-delivered 'resign now' letter to Mugabe gets heavily beaten AGAIN, MyZimbabwe, Published:06 Nov 2014, Retrieved:21 Nov 2014"
  6. Itai Dzamara, Itai Dzamara, Facebook Page, Retrieved:20 Nov 2014"
  7. We are living in fear, say family of missing Zimbabwean activist, The Zimbabwe Guardian, retrieved 2 June 2016