IT is with a heavy heart that I write to you as both Head of State and Commander-in- Chief of the armed forces in connection with the abduction of Itai Dzamara on 9 March 2015. I have been compelled to do this after waiting for ages in vain for your intervention or at least a word on this unresolved mystery.
Indeed, as head of the African Union, I am made to believe that you have discussed the plight of the Chibok girls in Nigeria with your counterparts across the region and it is in the same spirit that I would have expected you to make a public statement on Dzamara’s abduction. Alas, much to the amazement of us all, you remained mum on this saga and we are made to guess your opinion through George Charamba who foolishly believes that Dzamara’s abduction and subsequent disappearance is not worth of your attention, for, ‘’people go missing here (Zimbabwe) and elsewhere in the world,’’ to quote his words.
Mr President, it is regrettable that such venom drips from none other than your spokesperson and the conclusion I am made to draw is that he expresses your views. I hope Mr President you still remember the abduction of Dr Edson Furatidzayi Chisingaitwi Sithole and his secretary Miriam Mhlanga outside a Salisbury hotel on October 15, 1975 and never to be seen again. Aren’t we being drawn to the dark colonial savagery? In any case, assuming, that the victim of the heinous crime happened to be one of your children, either Chatunga, Robert (jnr) or Bona, were you to remain in your shell as is the case with Itai’s disappearance?
Mr President, you recall that there has been several abductions by alleged state security agents in the country since independence but none of the culprits have been brought to justice. I hope you still remember the mysterious disappearance of Rashiwe Guzha, a typist in the Central Intelligence Office (CIO) in 1990 and the subsequent death of the key witness in none other than Edson Shirihuru, the then Deputy Director of the CIO and the former’s boyfriend. Up to now, there has been no trace of the poor typist with some theories alleging that her body perished in acid.
Likewise, Mr President, I hope word reached you about the disappearance in 2008 of Patrick Nabanyana, an election agent for the MDC legislator, David Coltart who was dragged out of his house in Bulawayo by unknown assailants and never to be seen again. As if this tragedy wasn’t enough, you recall the abduction of Edwin Chikomba, a freelance cameraman in 2007 by men in plain clothes from his Harare home only to be found dead 80 kilometres outside the capital. As rumour mongers allege, the poor cameraman’s crime was to sell to the international media footage of the badly injured Morgan Tsvangirai, beaten in police custody.
Indeed, I hope your intelligence personnel reported to you about the abduction and subsequent gruesome murder of Tonderai Ndira in 2008 after being taken out of his house in Harare, allegedly by 8 armed men wearing masks and dressed in plain clothes. The helpless Tonderai ended up at the Harare morgue where he was found dead by his brother Cosmas a week later.
Mr President, it is worth noting that in all these murders, none of the culprits have been brought to justice. As George Charamba attempts to exonerate you from blame on the grounds that as head of state, you can’t know of every tragedy that befalls your citizens, the argument gets weak considering the fact that these high profile cases relate to individuals who are perceived to be your opponents.
It is cheap politicking to mislead the nation into believing that you were not aware of the Occupy Africa Unity Square movement being spearheaded by Itai as your spokesperson wishes the nation to believe. If you are innocent and smart enough Mr President, why didn’t you set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the abduction of Jestina Mukoko in 2008?
If these disappearances are not sanctioned by you, why did you pardon those behind Patrick Kombayi’s shooting in 1990? Mr President, if you are not aware of all these abductions and murders, it’s either you are too incompetent to be head of state or you are an accomplice in the atrocities or both, thus, justifying Itai’s call for your resignation.
I recall reading letters by you from Salisbury Prison to Harold Wilson, the then British Prime Minister, pleading with the colonial power to halt the deportation of your wife Sally Hayfron from the country. Indeed, your wife’s stay in Britain was partly financed by the British Ariel Foundation. As a prisoner at Wha Wha, Sikombela and Salisbury, in spite of all the suffering you went through, you had the privilege to study and even write letters to relatives. Mr President, you denied Itai all these rights you enjoyed during you incarceration under Ian Smith, thus, betraying the ideals and aspirations of the liberation struggle. Sally was not made to fend for herself in exile but in contrast, Itai’s wife Sheffra, her two children, Nokutenda and Nenyasha do not enjoy this privilege. They starve as you watch.
Mr President, as a Roman Catholic who frequents the Vatican for spiritual rejuvenation, how did you feel on seeing the Dzamara family over the weekend, holding a vigil at Africa Unity Square to mark Itai’s 36th birthday in his absence? The late Ambuya Bona, in spite of all her tribulations during your incarceration, was consoled by the fact that relatives could visit you in prison. In contrast, the Dzamara family can’t do the same as they are not sure if their son and father is dead or alive. The family doesn’t have closure which you had when Nhamodzenyika, your son died in 1966.
In spite of the fact that you were denied the right to bury your son, Sally was there on your behalf and today you can go and lay flowers on his grave. Sheffra, Nokutenda, Patson and Nenyasha don’t enjoy this privilege and neither do they know what befell one of their own. Is Itai locked somewhere in a remote place, is he being fed, does he have anything to put on in the cold, is he in the company of lions, how terrified is he in the midst of his captors or was he thrown in the Kariba dam dead or alive let alone dissolved in acid?
Mr President, Sheffra, Nokutenda and Nenyasha live in fear as vultures hover over and above them daily in your watch at a time they are most vulnerable. You pleaded with Harold Wilson to give refuge to Sally in moments like these when the Dzamara family do not have anywhere to run for protection. What a paradox! This is the independence you fought for Mr President.
Your, Excellency, I recall listening to one of your speeches in which you bemoaned the fact that all your siblings have passed away except for Mrs Gata. In fact, I sympathise with your misfortunes, but, at least you are consoled by the fact that you know where your relatives are buried. You can take flowers and lay them on Bona, Sabina, Albert, Bridget, Michael and Donato’s graves. At least, you do have closure for death is the rite of passage for us all.
Sheffra, Nokutenda, Nenyasha and Patson would enjoy that very privilege if they knew where Itai’s body is buried. If Ian Douglas Smith, as evil as he was could spare a ‘’terrorist’’ in you during your captivity, why wasn’t Itai given that chance as well? After all, what were the activist’s crimes? The need for a prosperous Zimbabwe in which Nokutenda and Nenyasha enjoy the aspirations of the liberation struggle which have been betrayed by you Mr President and a minority elite at the expense of the majority trapped in perpetual poverty.
At 91 years of age, well above the continent’s life expectancy, the last thing a sitting incumbent would dream of is to soil his image by being associated with Dzamara’s abduction. Indeed, I hope the activist is still alive and that one day he will be able to tell Nokutenda and Nenyasha where he was all along, for Sheffra does’t have an answer to this question as the kids keep on asking where their dad is. Mr President, he who hates a man’s child doesn’t have a child of his own.
William Muchayi is a pro-democracy and political analyst who can be contacted on email@example.com