Ousted former vice-President Joice Mujuru and ex-Zanu PF secretary for administration, now linked to the People First (PF) project did not attend the Itai Dzamara prayer meeting yesterday as earlier expected.
BY MOSES MATENGA
However, former Hurungwe MP Temba Mliswa and ex-war veterans’ leader, Jabulani Sibanda stole the thunder at the event where loud calls for Zimbabweans to take drastic measures to end their suffering at the hands of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF government were heard.
Sibanda and Mliswa got a standing ovation, particularly each time the name People First was mentioned.
The two expelled former Zanu PF officials shared the platform at Zimbabwe grounds with several other opposition leaders, among them MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Mavambo/Kusile leader Simba Makoni who joined thousands of people who attended a prayer meeting in solidarity with the missing Dzamara and his family. They hugged, shook hands and chatted with the MDC-T officials.
Even though Mutasa failed to attend, he on behalf of PF and together with Tsvangirai, Makoni, Lovemore Madhuku (NCA), Tendai Biti (MDC Renewal), Emilia Mukaratirwa (Zapu) and Jacob Ngarivhume (Transform Zimbabwe), signed a joint statement calling on Mugabe to ensure the return of Dzamara.
Emotions ran high during the prayer meeting, as politicians, civic society officials and pastors from different churches prayed for Dzamara’s safe return.
His wife Sheffra, holding her daughter, broke down during the prayer that was being led by Bishop Ancelimo Magaya, one of the conveners of the event.
Addressing thousands of people from across the political divide, including church and civic society members, Sibanda said decisive measures needed to be taken to rescue the country from continuing on its political and economic free fall.
“We need an operation to remove what we want to achieve, not a painkiller. We have taken painkiller after painkiller, painkiller after painkiller, lets remove what is the problem, we can’t have painkiller after painkiller,” he said.
“God is saying we have been sleeping for too long, this is the time for people to unite and put your parties and positions aside and find a common objective for Zimbabwe.”
Dzamara was abducted in March this year by suspected state agents and four months later, his whereabouts are still not known.
Sibanda said the over 90% of the country’s population were unemployed, warning that in years to come, this 90% will translate into older people with no pension, describing this as a potential crisis.
He said Western embassies have been vocal, calling for return of Dzamara but urged them to be also vocal in calling for justice in judging for those involved in the Matabeleland massacre, known as Gukurahundi that left more than 20 000 people dead.
Using quotes from the Bible, he pleaded for unity and dialogue to bring the walls of repression in Zimbabwe.
“Come, let us reason together, come let us reason together. These words my brothers and sisters, come from God. My brother, president of the MDC-T and Amai Tsvangirai, these words come from God, come let us reason together, my sister from Matabeleland (Thokozani) Khupe, right from Manicaland, Makoni, all the chiefs, God is saying, come lets reason together,” said Sibanda.
“All journalists here some write with responsibility while others don’t, but God is saying, come lets reason together. For the first time in our country, people now know if one of us in not there, one of us is missing. I am a war veteran and I fought for democracy in this country,” he said.
Mliswa encouraged youths to be strong and fight tyranny and challenged MPs to call Mugabe to respond on the disappearance of Dzamara.
“Sometimes I feel we are cowards. We are the vanguards of our political parties as youths but let’s be vanguards of Zimbabwe. This should not happen to anyone,” Mliswa said.
“Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa said this in Parliament but he is not good enough, the President must comment. I don’t know what’s wrong with MPs; do you want me to come back? Request a Q and A with the President and the first question to ask him should be ‘where is Itai Dzamara’?”
Mliswa donated a tonne of maize to the Dzamara family.
Tsvangirai, who spoke last said he never dreamt of sharing the platform with the likes of Sibanda.
“We have not seen this in Zimbabwe, we want to thank Itai, whether dead or alive for uniting us to fight dictatorship and oppression of people of Zimbabwe,” he said.
“For the first time there is national convergence on what needs to be done in Zimbabwe. Remove the cause, not the symptoms. Never again shall a person disappear without a trace. He (Itai) did not enjoy freedom after expression.”
Preachers and prayer warriors called for the return of Dzamara and cursed the abductors saying they should not know peace until Dzamara’s safe return.
Convener of the meeting, Bishop Magaya from the Christian Alliance condemned African Embassies over their silence on Dzamara’s abduction.
“He who kills by the sword will die by the sword. Listen you abductors, l declare restlessness right now in your heart till ltai is free, till he is returned. You don’t spill blood in a peaceful society,” he said.
Dzamara’s brother Partson said Zimbabwe should have freedom of expression like what Itai did adding that as family they were disturbed by his disappearance.
Members of the Occupy Africa Unity Square, which was founded by Itai, and civic society members also came in to give their solidarity messages.
A total of $1002 was raised for Dzamara’s family while the MDC-T Masvingo province said it will pay fees for ltai son for 2015 and 2016.