Churches and civic groups join search for missing activist

Several churches, civic groups and community organizations have joined in the search for missing human rights activist Paul Chizuze, who disappeared over three weeks ago after leaving his home in Bulawayo.

Paul Chizuze
Paul Chizuze

There is growing concern he may have been kidnapped or even murdered, as there has been no sign of his Nissan twin cab either, which he was driving when he was last seen on February 8th.

Education Minister and Senator David Coltart, who worked on projects with Chizuze in the late 80s and 90s, told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that several churches, the Legal Resources Foundation and the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace have all joined in efforts to locate Chizuze.

“I also know that lawyers have been involved and family members have gone to rural areas. Other community activists have also been searching at police stations,” Coltart explained, adding that he was “deeply distressed” at the disappearance.

Coltart said what is worrying people the most is that “there is absolutely no leads whatsoever” after so much time. “You can understand how a person can go missing but it is really odd that something as big as a vehicle should go missing,” the legislator said.

Asked whether Chizuze might have uncovered something that threatened the security of top officials, Coltart said: “It could very well be, he has been working on issues that could be very embarrassing to hardliners.

Chizuze was a well-known grassroots activist who worked mostly as a paralegal with human rights and community groups in Bulawayo. According to Coltart, he did “groundbreaking work” and has a lot of information on the Gukurahundi massacres of the late eighties.

Meanwhile, members from the pressure group Women and Men Of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA/MOZA) marched in Harare and Bulawayo on Wednesday to highlight the fact that Chizuze was still missing. MOZA member Conny Dube told SW Radio Africa that they were surprised the police did not disrupt the peaceful march, as that is what normally happens.

Asked to comment on Chizuze’s disappearance, Dube said: “There is an anticipated election and they are sending a message. They know human rights activists and civil groups educate people and they want to quell that.” SW Radio Africa

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