What is govt afraid of?

The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) last week played an active role in the cancellation of a prayer meeting for Itai Dzamara – the journalist turned political activist who was abducted on March 9 by suspected state security agents in broad daylight.

Itai Dzamara
Itai Dzamara

His whereabouts remain unknown to this day. The courts had okayed the meeting after an initial attempt by the police to bar the planned religious gathering. The major question is: What is government afraid of?

In a normal democracy, a prayer meeting such as the one that was scheduled in memory of Dzamara would have been authorised without any hassle. In fact, the issue of authorisation would not even have featured as citizens are supposed to enjoy the unquestioned right of assembly.

Jittery

However, what we saw was a jittery government that did all it could to thwart an otherwise bona fide meeting of like-hearted people who wished to express their grief and concern about an innocent citizen who disappeared under mysterious and disturbing circumstances.

All the police should have done, in keeping with its mandate of ensuring peace among and the security of citizens, was to deploy forces to ensure the prayer campaign went on well. The fact that it went ahead and stopped the prayer meeting shows that the Zanu (PF) government is trying to hide a lot. In the first instance, the police and other state security departments are not doing what the High Court ordered them to do in a judgement some time back. They have not shown evidence of seriously investigating the disappearance of Dzamara.

Reluctance to act

It would therefore appear as though they are afraid that any gathering relating to the disappearance would expose their ineptitude or reluctance to act on the abduction. But it cannot be the problem of the Dzamara family and sympathisers that the state is not doing its job. A well-meaning government with genuine security concerns for its people has nothing to fear.

This is not the first time we have seen the police and other security arms act in the manner they did regarding the Dzamara prayer meeting. In the past, they have stopped funeral vigils involving victims of political persecution. In fact, they have on some of the occasions gone ahead to hijack funerals as a pre-emptive measure.

This only happens in a militarised and undemocratic society. When it happened in the past, it was clear that the security agencies were unsettled by the fact that they had a hand in some of the deaths. Now that they are doing it again, it leaves us wondering whether that is an admission of their involvement in the Dzamara abduction.

Post published in: Human Rights

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