HARARE, ZIMBABWE - Pro-democracy activists and family members gathered Thursday in Harare to renew pressure on Zimbabwean authorities to investigate the abduction two years ago of activist Itai Kadiki Dzamara.
Dzamara was an outspoken critic of President Robert Mugabe, and he organized anti-government demonstrations. He was last seen in 2015 being loaded into a car by men thought to be plainclothes officers of the central intelligence organization. Dzamara was about to have his hair cut, and his barber and several bystanders said they witnessed the incident.
Dzamara's wife, Sheffra, who attended Thursday's event, said it was very painful that two years had passed without her husband being found. She said police and government officials did not respect Dzamara's family and colleagues; she contended that police could track down the culprits if they wanted to do so.
On Thursday, the U.S. Embassy in Harare and the European Union mission issued separate statements expressing deep concern about the lack of progress in the Dzamara case.
Thursday's commemoration drew about 200 people to Freedom Square in the capital. Police had tried to block the event but later gave in after Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights threatened to sue.
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has rebuffed accusations the government is dragging its feet in the investigation. So did police spokeswoman Charity Charamba.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police force "is pursuing all possible avenues to locate Itai Kadiki Dzamara as directed by Justice [David] Mangota," she said. "The Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of State Security, human rights lawyers and Dzamara's relatives are also actively involved in the investigations with the police. Periodical meetings are being held with all concerned parties with a view to locate Itai Kadiki Dzamara."
On Thursday, Dzamara's relatives disputed that claim. They said police were not complying with the High Court ruling in which Mangota ordered state security agents to regularly update Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights on progress in the case.
Last year, Amnesty International appealed to set up a commission of inquiry on Dzamara's disappearance, but the proposal appears to have fallen on deaf ears.