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Abducted Anti-Mugabe Activist Still Missing After a Month


A truckload of Zimbabwean police is seen outside the headquarters of Zimbabwe's main opposition party in Harare March 12, 2015. Police sealed the building as tensions rose over the disappearance of activist Itai Dzamara.

A truckload of Zimbabwean police is seen outside the headquarters of Zimbabwe's main opposition party in Harare March 12, 2015. Police sealed the building as tensions rose over the disappearance of activist Itai Dzamara.

This week marks one month since a Zimbabwean pro-democracy activist was abducted by suspected state security agents. His lawyers are concerned by the silence of the government, while his colleagues say they fear for their lives.
National Youth Alliance chairman Itai Dzamara disappeared March 9.

Zimbabwean police say the wife of Dzamara last saw her husband when five men forced him into a car before driving off.

Lizwe Jamela is with Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, an organization which sought an order to compel state agents to locate the anti-Mugabe activist. He explains how it has been since Dzamara disappeared.

"From lawyer's perspective, it is so sad to work on a case where you do not actually talk to your client. Where he vanishes in the air. Nothing is really leading to where they [Dzamara] are. In as much as there are statements by the authorities that they are investigating, so far we have not had any updates," said Jamela.

The statements the lawyer mentioned is a reference to a denial by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa that Harare had an issue with the missing activist.

“We are a democratic society and anybody in this country who commits a crime must account for the crime that is committed. That is why we have institutions like the Zimbabwe Republic Police to deal with this. I can assure the House that it [Dzamara’s abduction] is a barbaric act and we want those responsible to come to book," said Mnangagwa.

The accusations stemmed from the fact that Dzamara had been calling for President Robert Mugabe’s resignation. Dzamara along with other activists accused Mugabe of ruining once-prosperous Zimbabwe and of disregarding human rights.

Irvine Takavada, one of Itai Dzamara’s colleagues from the National Youth Alliance. (Photo: Columbus S. Mavhunga for VOA)

Irvine Takavada, one of Itai Dzamara’s colleagues from the National Youth Alliance. (Photo: Columbus S. Mavhunga for VOA)

Despite Vice President Mnangagwa’s assurances, nothing has happened a full month down the line. Instead, Dzamara’s colleagues of National Youth Alliance say they now fear for their lives. They say a vehicle they suspect was used to abduct Dzamara is following them. One of them is Irvine Takavada.

"I am no longer safe living in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is my only place I have to enjoy my rights. So if I am deprived that by the state security and the [ruling party] ZANU-PF youths, then it means I am no longer safe," said Takavada.
National Youth Alliance deputy chairman Dirk Frey says the past month has been difficult for Dzamara's colleages and friends.

"It has been a mixed grill. It has been very tough for him who knew him personally; a lot of deep emotions. However, we have had to put our grief on hold to carry on. You could say there is some determination to grit our teeth and carry on until we find him again," said Frey.

National Youth Alliance deputy chairman Dirk Frey. (Photo: Columbus S. Mavhunga for VOA)

National Youth Alliance deputy chairman Dirk Frey. (Photo: Columbus S. Mavhunga for VOA)

Frey is one of several activists planning to ask the African Union and Southern African Development Community to remove President Mugabe from his posts with those bodies if his government does not act on the disappearance.

Mugabe is the current chairman of both bodies. So far, no African government has voiced concern over the missing activist.

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