A defiant and ‘fearless’ Journalist, Itai Dzamara, who this week pulled a shocker by hand delivering a step down petition to President Mugabe’s offices has been released after being briefly detained by the authorities.
Mr Dzamara who was in the company of two other gentlemen who had volunteered to aid him in his endeavours says he is raring to go and that the fight is tillon.
Below is his own narration of the events that took place when he delivered the daring petition to President Mugabe’s Munhumutapa offices..
OH YES, MUGABE MUST COME DOWN
By Itai Dzamara
After we successfully submitted our petition to President Robert Mugabe yesterday, we got an immediate response, and also the perfect opportunity to get a vivid reflection of his regime’s mindset and attitudes. These are very crucial and urgent times for the nation of Zimbabwe, and, the truth shall set us free.
I shall always uphold and walk on truth and objectivity, as l continue to make my modest contribution towards searching for a way out of our national crisis.
We, yes we, ended up spending the whole day at work. I was not alone. Two other Zimbabweans, whom l still don’t even know whether they sleep in mansions or shacks, committedly joined and walked with me every inch of the long journey we ended up traversing.
I have been saying it, and shall continue doing so, that the initiative l have come up with is about us, the people and we are the numbers. The two men, Philosophy Nyapfumbi and Tichaona Danho, came forth on their own, to spend the entire day together as we set the ball rolling for what l seriously believe can make a noble contribution to making our country work again.
I do not even know whether Nyapfumbi and Danho had a dollar each to go back home after the long day of drama.
But, l have no doubt that they are the people, and they are the numbers, who are ready to go – they proved that yesterday.
Just about after 30 minutes since l had personally handed in the petition to Mugabe’s office, and getting an official sign in my notebook to confirm receipt, l received a phone call.
It was from the president office, and a gentleman said, ‘Can you immediately return here? The officials want to meet you about your petition and appointment.’
I promised to do so after a couple of minutes because we were just arriving at Harare Central Police Station to submit our notification for civil, peaceful and resolute plans to wait for Mugabe’s response, starting Monday, at Africa Unity Square.
We had passed through parliament, and the Speaker’s executive secretary had signed in my notebook to confirm receipt of the copy of petition.
Various suggestions came from many angles when we consulted about going back to Mugabe’s office, but mainly that it was not advisable.
I was clear in my heart that, we had nothing to fear and could face Mugabe or any of his officials, for that was the real purpose of stepping up with the initiative.
Back at Munhumutapa building, and l presented myself at the entrance to Mugabe’s office, where l had submitted the petition just an hour before.
A host of officials there, and some looked petrified, others highly suspicious. I am sure it had been unimaginable to some of them that the author of the petition, whose contents they now knew, would be standing before them, bare hands and with a straight face.
A couple of minutes were spent as consultations were made about where to take me, with officials going up and down the stairs to get some orders.
Despite their palpable shock and surprise, all of them, men and women, very respectfully addressed me, mainly as ‘Mr. Dzamara’. There was no decision about where to take me, so l was ordered to go back to the main entrance reception to join my two colleagues in waiting there – l found also in the waiting lounge, popular comedian Lawrence Simbarashe (Bhonzo), not that he had joined us, but must have been on his own mission.
A few moments later, an official showed up and summoned me, now together with my colleagues. Still there was still confusion about where to take us.
When a plan was agreed, we were led outside of the main entrance, and then through another, towards the back of Munhumutapa building. Then, it started becoming apparent that we were now being treated with a lot of caution and security. Several officials in suits accompanied us and made sure to move in a manner that kept us well encircled. I consulted my heart, it was at peace and very calm.
Straight to a very small room at the back, we were led. Fierce looking police officers were crammed in the little room, about seven of them, with a couple of AK47 rifles at a few’s backs and on tables.
They were watching a tape of Emmanuel Makandiwa on a laptop.
One of the officials in suit who had brought us there, said, ‘May you keep these men for us, they are high profile suspects! But don’t beat them.’
That certainly would cause an ambivalent feeling in the three of us. Still, my heart was calm and at peace. The processes started, which we would go through at every stage for the next seven hours. Of being asked to hand in our IDs, details recorded, address, name of wife, father, rural home, chief, employment history and so forth. It was just unbelievable to the police officers, when l revealed the issue of my petition. ‘Unodhunya nhaika (You are insane, isn’t it)?
Do you find that to make sense and to be possible?’ retorted the one who appeared to be their leader, with menacing pensive look at me. A few of discussions and debates and it was clear we were two camps not fashioned for that. Our police colleagues blatantly never believed my idea or attempt was normal or practical. The did not think anyone can do that to Robert Mugabe.
We agreed to strike a peace deal and end the discussions.
After an hour, we were summoned, got into a truck and towards Harare Central Police Station. Two officials, relaxedly sat in front and left us alone in the back seat. They must have not comprehended the description of ‘high profile suspects’.
We went straight to underground at central police station, to the secluded department of CIO presidential office’s liason section. Five hours loomed, of very tense, yet at times friendly engagements and discussions with various officials.
Again, it was unbelievable to them that l would write and submit the petition the way l had done.
I was fully ready for them, and defended my case through and through. I continuously asserted my position on the rights to do everything l had done. They consented and admitted, but still searched for routes and angles to sort my mind – that was the mission.
I had my mind in the right place and kept it at its best. I got into the mode of what l usually practise at home, before my wife and when acting like a lawyer defending a case in court. Our host were agitated, anxious but very cautious. They repeatedly went and spoke on phone, clearly getting some instructions. I repelled and trashed their attempts at disarming me through labelling me a ‘failed journalist’ or ‘agent of the enemy’.
They were deeply apprehensive and agitated about my idea of gathering at Africa Unity Square to wait for Mugabe’s response. I was inciting people, they alleged. I repelled their antics and stood my ground. They alleged l was trying to imitate what happened in Arab countries. I took out of my satchel, a document outlining the ’10 Golden rules’ for my idea and mission and gave them. They were disarmed.
One of them became exasparated when l challenged and rebuked him for repeatedly parroting crude Zanu PF’s propaganda and agitating for its politics.
He ordered me off the bench and to sit on the floor as well as remove my shoes.
‘Une nharo ende unoda kuzviita unoziva sitereki (You are hard headed and you think you know a lot)’ he said.
They reminded me that they could brutally beat me with an assortment of sjamboks, iron bars and wood planks that were in abundance in the room. I said l could take it.
I stood my ground about both my petition and plan to wait for Mugabe’s response at Africa Unity Square.
One young and overzealous official who was clearly drunk came in and splashed water he was drinking from a bottle into my face. This one seriously desired to beat me up, but was advised by his colleagues not to.
My two colleagues were also being tormented with a series of questions and accusations.
Gradually their tone changed and they became more friendly as well as drifted towards negotiating with me about my plans to wait for Mugabe’s response at Africa Unity Square. They came to points of openly pleading.
‘Look Itai, you are a learned person and you must agree that it is not proper to do what you are planning, please,’ one of them said.
I stuck to my strategy of arguing my case, that, Mugabe really had to seriously take the national situation, and respond to my and other demands as a matter of urgency.
I added and emphasized that my heart was aching at what appears to be Mugabe’s choice to just watching and wait for the situation to get out of hand.
We had seniors in the department coming in and discussing with me, so l knew l was directly communicating with the Mugabe regime.
I did exactly the same way l want Mugabe to hear the issues.
Eventually, and after four hours, one of the top seniors came in and immediately asked me to put on my shoes and sit on a bench. He launched his series.
Same story, of clear attempts to deal with my mind, brainwash me. He didn’t persist and carefully guarded against my counter strategy, of playing at, and rebuking them for, their open parroting of Zanu PF propaganda or crude politics during our discussions. He pleaded about the Africa Unity Square plan. I won his expressed admiration by arguing and proving that l have no bad or sinister intentions whatsoever. l asked him, ‘have you ever encountered someone who openly takes a position, writes the petition, hand deliver it, have his details taken, and goes through all these discussions openly?’
I have nothing to hide nor to fear, l reiterated yet again. He stared at me stone faced, when l said to him, very clearly, ‘If you had the means, you would help our nation now by convincing Mugabe to take us seriously and urgently engage on the national crisis’.
That was it, and he was done. He calmly and nicely said, ‘So you see Dzamara, we never beat you, we didn’t arrest you. Did we? We have no problem with your petition and it is your right to do that. But we request you to seriously think again about your plans to gather at Africa Unity Square.’
I concluded my part by making it clear that l stood by my initiative and would continue pursuing it, until or unless Mugabe responds to my demands.
Around 17:30, we were taken to the Police Internal Security department, for another hour of going through submission of details, and questions and answers about the petition as well as the Africa Unity Square plan.
None of the five officials in the room even attempted to play the mind games, or brainwashing antics. It was akin to my moments in the lecture room, where l articulate theories, practices and concepts of media and journalism to carefully listening and friendly faces.
We were done around 18:45, and thought it was time to go, but we were advised that had to go to the Law and Order section for a brief meeting.
There, 45 minutes were for just sitting and waiting as officials kept consulting and engaging about what to do with us. Eventually, one of them said, ‘gentlemen, you may go but should come back tomorrow at 08:30.’
I quickly retorted, ‘We have been made to understand that we have not been arrested, and have no case to answer. I am afraid, l am tied up tomorrow and can’t come’.
There was no objection from the officials who admitted we were free men.
One of them requested that we would then go back on Monday, which l said was possible, and would have to be communicated upon.
He gave us his number, and the series ended. We made it. Gave Mugabe our position and demand, presented ourselves for whatever his system would do to us. We went through every letter and word they wanted explanation and clarification on.
We heard their story, which is largely a joke, and unacceptable, such as that l, a ‘mere’ citizen cannot take up that measure to Mugabe. I totally denounced that argument and told them to leave me alone.
We had enough time to deal with their presumptive and deductive theories and arguments for justifying why Zimbabweans should continue keeping quiet and watch the further sinking of the ship under Mugabe government’s totally directionless watch.
That is it, Mugabe has to take heed and urgently come out of wherever he is to attend to the urgent national crisis and hear our demands. I am continuing and pursuing further processes and avenues towards achieving that.
Those agreeing with me, l reiterate, we are maintaining civil, peaceful and resolute means.
Important plans and announcements to continue coming.
We are the people!
We are the numbers!