It had just gone past 11:20 HRS on Thursday, November 6, 2014, when a troop of police officers suddenly invaded the park and headed straight to our group.
We were ten, gathered at our now-adopted spot, directly opposite parliament.
We were a mixture of feelings and attitudes – l could see trepidation vivid on a couple of faces, anxiety and uncertainty – as we prepared to embark on a street march.
I did my round of checking and got confirmation from the team, that they were ready.
Several others were sending messages, saying they were on the way.
Around the park, probably 50 people were ready to assess the situation and jump into the march if it was safe, but also ready to disappear at the arrival of trouble.
My major focus was at the core group and was happy that, with more than 20 people ready to go all the way, we could pull it through.
I was fully aware of the state’s serious fears about our planned march, which had been expressed in several meetings with senior police officers.
I however, still hoped we could prove to the state that we do not mean any harm at all.
But, the troop of police members had other ideas and plans.
Numbering over 20, they ordered us to disband our gathering and leave.
‘What are you doing here?’ the leader of the police team shouted.
‘We are discussing and sharing,’ l responded, but he had already instructed his team to start beating us.
Chaos erupted, as they randomly beat our group, forcing most of the guys to run away.
I was shocked and could not believe such barbaric act was happening. I had received three lashes as l tried to reach out to the leader of the police team, to engage him about what their problem was.
It just did not occur to me, that they would seriously resort to such barbaric violence, two weeks since we had started staging our sit-in at the park, and proving to be adhering to our golden rules of civil, peaceful and resolute conduct.
My attempt to engage the leader of the police team and plead for peace, gave them the opportunity they probably had long craved for.
The leader of the team, with a star on his shoulder, showing to be of a senior rank, grabbed a baton stick from another and started the brutal assault on me.
I could not believe it, as he invited the rest saying ‘ngatimushandeyi’ (let’s work on him).
More than 12 of them were suddenly all over, raining heavy lashes onto my body, as others further chased away my colleagues.
‘Yes, this is him, Itai. Let’s break his bones,’ I heard one of them shout.
My colleagues, Tichaona Danho and Tafadzwa Charumbira returned to the scene and were vowing to stay for my sake. They were beaten up and told to leave, but they stood their ground.
A group of about 10 police officers kept concentrating on me.
One grabbed my hands and put them in cuffs, very tightly tied that l felt my wrists like breaking.
Another one grabbed my belt and lifted me until it broke, as lashes rained all over my body. He went further to tearing the zip of my jean trousers, exposing my underwear – l wondered what he was up to.
A lady police officer who had concentrated on hitting my legs, watched with glee as her button stick broke into two pieces after smashing it on my left ankle.
I felt like my whole leg had broken into pieces.
I began to feel dizzy and powerless.
I looked at the lady, right in the face. ‘My sister, you are happy to be breaking that thing on my body? Oh, you have broken my leg, but may God bless you and if l die, you must live to see a new Zimbabwe,’ l painfully said to her.
She dropped her face in shame and looked the other way, as if weeping.
Moments later, l collapsed, as a police officer struggled to remove the cuffs that had sunk teeth into my wrists.
I went blank and faintly heard sounds.
I heard Tichaona and Tafadzwa shouting at the police team and asking why they were killing me.
Later, after what seemed like ages, l heard someone arriving and asking, ‘Is this Itai?. I tried to open my eyes but couldn’t.
The sound faded.
Later l learnt that our lawyer Kennedy Masiye had arrived but soon went on the receiving end of the murderers in police uniform, who had returned from an around the park trip of chasing away everyone.
Masiye broke a hand, lost his glasses and watch, in his attempt to do his duty, and as the gang of murderers turned him into a rabid animal deserving such brutality.
I again felt being beaten even as l lay unconscious and Danho and Charumbira were forced to carry me out of the park, accompanied by a team of the murderers raining lashes at them as well.
I did not know how l left the city centre, but later regained consciousness upon arrival at a medical institution.
And, this close shave with death became a culmination of what we started on October 17, 2014.
We are moving on and it is vital that l set the record straight and correct many misconceptions.
On the day it started, Danho and Philosophy Nyapfumbi joined me in handing a petition at President Robert Mugabe’s office – which was received and we were immediately summoned to go through eight hours of serious interrogation by state agents.
No, l never had any illusion that Mugabe would read the petition and step down, or cry.
I intended to make the petition become the take off point of broader and diverse processes and efforts.
I set out to put the matter of national crisis and urgent need for addressing it, on the agenda, and backed by processes of action to press for the demands.
These we have so far succeeded in achieving, and even Mugabe knows that.
I never, at any minute anticipated an event or stroll in the park.
Rather, and in fact, as l look back, l am shocked by the huge impact we have quickly made.
I had projections of going for even a month of struggling alone and bearing ridicule, but, just after three weeks, my modest dream has become a national issue, and project.
Unbelievably, l returned from hospital yesterday to find the mission having grown to involve thousands of people and gone global.
Yet, l returned with all my bones intact – not even one on the smallest finger was broken. One of the murderers, who proudly said, ‘We have left him for dead,’ as they brutally assaulted me on Thursday, never had an idea about the power of possibility, hope and protection from above.
Calls are coming from all over the country and in the diaspora, to spread the mission and involve Zimbabweans there
That is, inevitably, our task and challenge.
We are on and up to it, right away.
The majority of Zimbabweans are in full agreement with the position that the Mugabe regime has totally failed and must be forced to step down.
The majority agree to our commitment to pursuing civil, peaceful and resolute means.
That’s it, and let’s go.
It is our responsibility and right, for which Mugabe nor murderers in police uniform, do not have the power to grant or deny.
I have walked through many things during the past three weeks and unequivocally assert that there is nothing special or sacred about Mugabe and his system.
That they have to resort to barbarism and attempting murder when not even a single docket has been compiled about any crime having been committed by our group, shames and exposes the tyranny that Mugabe presides over.
We owe it to our children to stand up against this shame.
And we will do it, with love, using civil, peaceful and resolute means.
It is no longer a matter of any single individual or group. It is not a matter of Itai Dzamara or what others feel about him.
I never set out nor hoped to have the MDC or Morgan Tsvangirai then brew magic and make my initiative remove Mugabe.
In fact, neither Tsvangirai nor MDC can do that alone, but, as l have always said, it now calls for our collective and collaborative efforts to stand up to the national call and responsibility.
I always invited Zimbabweans to individually and willingly agree with my position and even participate.
Thousands have done so and that is why we have gained enough momentum to be going all the way and preparing to officially launch a nation movement of civilian engagement and action over the national crisis.Contrary to some jaundiced and unadulterated false sentiments, there has not been and snubbing of me or my initiative by anyone.
The truth is that there is a lot of fear, cowardice and even hypocrisy preventing some in leadership positions from standing up to the situation, even in their own ways and initiatives.
We will not be discouraged by very cheap talk and attitudes even coming from those that must be playing their role about solving the national crisis.
I keep calling on all individuals and organisations that exist for the people and leadership to step up to the urgent situation.
We were never all meant to agree on one way of doing things, but we surely are in agreement that the national crisis needs to be addressed and a way found, towards charting a new course towards a better Zimbabwe.
I challenge everyone to, instead of wasting time debating and gossiping about our modest efforts, step up and play your role.
I reiterate that it shall require a collective and colloborative approach by MDC, MDC Green, MDC Orange, MDC Black, MKD, Ndonga, PDZ, DARE, ZAPU and so forth, as well as civic leaders and organisations.
It is the responsibility of all of us Zimbabweans.
Under the banner of Occupy Africa Unity Square, we are determined and resolved to go all the way, using civil, peaceful and resolute means.
We, without fear or apology, are moving on to broadening our scope and strategies. We are aware of the risk and that it is a long haul, but we are motivated to go all the way, by the goal of contributing towards stopping the fire burning our country as well as start processes of rebuilding it.
I am convinced that a new Zimbabwe is achievable, by us, and with adherence to the upholding of peace and order.
We are the people!
We are the numbers!