Army, CIO haggle over Dzamara

Central Intelligence Organisation sources have revealed that their officers, together with the army, were responsible for the disappearance of Itai Dzamara, a journalist and civil rights activist who was abducted on March 9.

Inside sources told The Zimbabwean this week that Dzamara was initially snatched by CIO officers from Glen View where he was having a haircut and taken to Goromonzi, the site of a CIO base where scores of opposition supporters and individuals deemed to be a threat by the Zanu (PF) government have been detained, tortured and sometimes killed.

The government inherited the detention centre from colonial Rhodesia, which used it to persecute freedom fighters and those helping them.

“Initially, he was taken because they wanted to interrogate him about a demonstration he was planning for Africa Unity Square,” said the source.

Dzamara, together with numerous young protestors, was arrested several times by the police for calling on President Robert Mugabe to go. He led a campaign dubbed Occupy Africa Unity Square (OAUS), which involved peaceful protests in the park adjacent to parliament, vowing the demonstrations would continue until Mugabe left office.


Security forces are said to have been unsettled by the campaign, which they feared might spark widespread uprising as the economic and political situation continues to deteriorate in the post-2013 election period.

Dzamara had already joined ranks with MDC-T and addressed some of its rallies. The sources said military intelligence took over custody of Dzamara from CIO, but did not mention when and how that happened.

The activist was then taken to a torture camp that the army uses on a farm it owns close to Chitungwiza. Sources named three military operatives, Chikowore, Tashinga and Maruru, whose national identity numbers they also supplied, as being involved in the transfer of Dzamara from Goromonzi. They said they doubted he was still alive.

The High Court recently ordered the security arms of government—police, CIO and army—to look for Dzamara. Crispen Makedenge, an assistant commissioner in charge of the police Law and Order section, recently gave an update to the High Court in keeping with its order but said they were still investigating the matter and had so far found nothing.


The sources said Makedenge was not telling the truth, because the security forces know that they took him. The security departments are, however, reportedly haggling about who is supposed to take responsibility for Dzamara’s fate. Our contacts said teams from the police, army and CIO met last week at the KG6 military barracks to discuss the issue.

A mystery

“Nobody was taking responsibility for his fate. They both accused each other of having Dzamara. The army denied holding him, meaning that something might have gone very wrong in their operations,” said one contact.

Another CIO operative said he was not aware of the KG6 meeting but confirmed that they were frantically trying to locate Dzamara. “The whole thing has become a mystery. We are also anxious to know where Dzamara is and we do regular updates during our meetings. The problem is that operations in the security sector are most of the time so uncoordinated because of suspicion among us,” said the operative.

Several activists, including Jestina Mukoko of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), were abducted in 2008 and held incommunicado for long periods before resurfacing at police stations, having been tortured by the security forces.

Dzamara’s abduction has been fiercely condemned by diplomats, opposition parties and human rights defenders. His wife is reportedly living in fear of state agents.

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