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Exclusive Interview with Itai Dzamara - Zimbabwe Today
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Exclusive Interview with Itai Dzamara


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We caught up with Mr. Itai Dzamara, the leader of the Occupy Africa Unity Square Initiative for a wide ranging interview. Great thanks for his time and effort to answer all our questions and letting Zimbabweans know more of who he is and what he wants to achieve. He is currently in hospital following the brutal attack on him by the riot police.

1) You are known as the man who wrote a letter to Mugabe asking him to step down. What is the source of courage? What do you wish to achieve?

l was inspired and encouraged by the urgent need for us to find a way of stopping the further national slide into deep crisis, which we already have. I am convinced that we cannot continue watching the national disaster and that the Mugabe government has failed. Through my efforts, l seek to raise urgent awareness and concern about the national crisis, the need for Mugabe and his government to admit failure and pave way for engagement involving all national stakeholders towards coming up with a new, workable plan of governance and national leadership.

2) If you had a one-on-one meeting with Robert Mugabe, what would you tell him?

l would tell Mugabe to admit that he played his roles and which are appreciated, but must now realise that he has exhausted his energies and opportunities as head of the state of Zimbabwe. I would implore upon him to consider the suffering of the majority of Zimbabweans, which l am sure is a result of his failure, and, for that reason, humble himself by admitting, dissolving his government and pave way for engagement of all national stakeholders towards a new, workable plan. I would also implore upon him to end the culture of unleashing state agents for brutal attacks on opponents or critics, because that sustains the darkness of national animosity, tension and divisions

3)  If you had a one-on-one meeting with Morgan Tsvangirai what would you tell him?

l would urge Morgan Tsvangirai to step up to the responsibility bestowed upon him by many Zimbabweans, who regard him as the face of opposition against the failed Mugabe regime. I would request Tsvangirai to mobilise his many followers to stand up and demand an end to the national crisis, but with emphasis on use of means that are constitutional, civil and peaceful.

4) Tell us a bit about yourself. How do you want Zimbabweans to identify you?

l am a simple Zimbabwean, endowed with a deep sense of self belief and desire to create a better nation. My 14 years experience in journalism exposed me to many things, which make me believe we can change our circumstances. Establishing my newspaper, The News Leader in 2009, at the age of 29, and making it a success, made me believe things can be done. I am also gifted with a deep analytical mind, l believe plays a major influence in my worldview and focus

5) A little more about you Mr. Dzamara. When were you born? School? Career?

l was born on August 7, 1979, at All Souls Mission in Mutoko. Attended seven years of primary education at Mbizi Pri School in Highfield, Harare – 86 to 92. Attended Highfield High School up to A Level – 93 to 98. Enrolled for journalism and mass communication at Christian College of Southern Africa in 1999 and finished in 2001. Studied with the University of Zim in conjunction with Africa Virtual University in business and economic journalism, 2002, 03 and 04. Currently studying law.

6)  Who is the writer who made the most impact on your life? And which books?

Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions and George Orwell’s Animal Farm thrilled me when l studied Literature at O Level. Ayi Kweyi Amar’s The Beautyful One Are not yet born added a deeper dimension at A Level. As an adult, l have repeatedly read Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom and a thick volume of Martin Luther King’s speeches

7) Who is your favorite historical figure and why?

Nelson Mandela, because he truly lived the real values of a freedom fighter, liberator, nation builder and unifier. He knew when to do and stop, which virtually entrenched his legacy. I learn a lot from his story, about balancing toughness with tenderness, defiance with peace and love.

8) Which Zimbabwean politician, dead or alive, do you admire the most?

A tough toss between Joshua Nkomo and Morgan Tsvangirai. The former was brave, well meaning for the nation and humble, yet also a man of peace. Tsvangirai stood up to the dictatorship of Mugabe through bravery and resilience as well as fought hard to score quite significant democratic victories as the face of opposition.

9) Tell us your vision of a new Zimbabwe. What do you want to see changed?

First and foremost, l desire a Zimbabwe that ceases to be shackled in the bondage of any individual or group, but which becomes an entitlement of all its people equally. To that end, war veterans or Mugabe must be recognised and respected for the role they played, but not continue holding the nation to ransom. There must be democratic processes to choose national leadership, which conform with modern trends and allowing free and fair contest. I yearn for equality among all the people and upholding of people’s freedoms as enshrined in the constitution. I also desire to see our national economy getting back to its best performance levels and us becoming a competitive global player.

Lastly, justice must be prioritised, including in correcting past episodes of violations such as the Gukurahundi genocide, through the approach of truth and reconciliation.

10) What are five lessons you have learnt from leading the Occupy Africa Unity Square Initiative?

A. The space is there for Zimbabweans to exercise their rights through civil and peaceful means. Opportunities exist, constitutionally.

B. The desire by Zimbabweans is there, to stand up and participate, but many are crippled by fear.

C. The significant gains and successes, such as resisting the state’s plans to bar us from staging the sit-in, show that committed civil action by the people can prevail.

D. The Mugabe regime is very paranoid and unwilling to uphold the national constitution through allowing the people to exercise the freedoms of associating, expression and demonstration.

E. Significant contribution can be made towards the national crisis, through civil, peaceful and resolute action.

11) List five things the Occupy Africa Unity Square need to succeed. What kind of support do you need most?

A. We need to mobilise for more participation by Zimbabweans.

B. We need collaboration of other efforts by various players, aimed towards pushing for the need to stop the national crisis and starting a new page towards national progress.

C. We have to create and enhance education and awareness programmes for conscietising people about constitutional provisions and rights to participate in civil and peaceful action.

D. We need to continue engaging individuals and organisations for them to join or participate.

E. We have to broaden our approach and strategies, as well as grow and spread the mission beyond Harare.

12) Whilst your example has been courageously admirable and inspiring, how else do you intent to convince Zimbabweans to march on the streets?

By mainly raising awareness about the constitutional provisions and rights to engage in civil protests. I would also emphasize and articulate the urgency of the national crisis, and need for us to stand up and stop it. My example must make people believe that the fears and risks can be faced and tackled.

13) What’s your response to those who consider your initiative a circus?

Honestly, l am not bothered by those that are purporting to find my efforts to be a circus. I am encouraged bythe impact the effort have made, including raising hope for the people. Mugabe and the state have felt our efforts and reacted, including through brutality. I am sure we have, and shall continue, making a difference, in our modest way.

14) A few words for Zimbabweans in the diaspora. . .

Our circumstances of failure have forced you to stay away from home. You have further been denied your rights to vote, but l am sure you still have roles to influence and contribute towards a better Zimbabwe. That includes, for the OAUS mission, signing our online petition and participating in plans to deliver our demands at Zimbabwean embassies in the countries you are residing.

15) Why have you chosen to work independently without attachment to any established opposition parties like Mavambo and M.D.C?

l found it necessary to, in addition to the political initiatives and processes, also establish a civil initiative, which involves people from diverse backgrounds. That is reflected in the composition of our core team, which involves members and supporters of various political parties. I expect political parties to play their roles, and which must collaborate with our efforts and those of other players.

16)  Five ways in which you would say ZANU-PF has failed Zimbabwe

A. Zanu PF regime has plundered and looted national resources and coffers to the extent of effectively making us a very poor nation.

B. Zanu PF has sustained the culture of bloodshed, violence, brutality and barbarism that have kept the nation under tension and an evil curse. The Mugabe regime has not genuinely sought and committed to upholding lasting unity and peace for all the people. Episodes such as Gukurahundi and bloody farm invasions have continued to haunt the spirit and soul of the nation.

C. Mugabe and his regime have kept the nation way behind in the practise of democracy and upholding of the rule of law. Their selective application of the law and violation of democratic principles has led to the crisis of legitimacy and lack of confidence across the board.

D. The Zanu PF regime has made Zimbabwe a pariah state in the global community, through intransigence, arrogance, violation of rights and barbarism.

E. Mugabe and his regime have eroded the gains of independence through imprisoning citizens under the shackless of fear and sense of lack of dignity and worth. The majority are prisoners oe fear and hence the pervasive apathy.

17) What’s your opinion about the current factional wars in ZANU-PF?

The chaos and fights in Zanu PF are emblematic of the glaring leadership failure of Mugabe and his team. It has been building up and accumulating over the years, as Mugabe mismanaged both Zanu PF and the country. In a broader sense, the situation in Zanu PF is reflective of what the nation situation will burst into – uncontrollable chaos – if we don’t stop the slide now.

18) What’s your opinion about the split between MDC-T and the MDC Renewal Team?

I believe as much as possible such splits must be avoided because they weaken organisations. However, a critical analysis brings to the fore, the reality of some deeper issues of differences, including some considered by the parties to be irreconcilable. In that case, l then hope that, after parting ways, the two camps continue playing their roles, effectively, and contributing to national development. Where possible, they may still join hands and collaborate in some ways, for the benefit of the nation.

19) Do you sympathize with Mangoma? He wrote a letter just like you did and he suffered for it?

Elton Mangoma exercised his right and expressed himself, like l strive to do as well. He did not have to be punished for that and l always condemn acts of violence in any form, including those attacks on Mangoma by some MDC activists. However, in my view, Mangoma and his colleagues also complicated matters through also violating the MDC constitution as they pretended to want to uphold it, including their failed Mandel coup attempt.

20)  What are the three reasons why you think Zimbabwe opposition parties have failed to dislodge Mugabe from power?

l would start by stating that it is important to note that Mugabe has been defeated, but refused to reliquish power.
The question then becomes why and how Mugabe has managed and been allowed to do that.

First, there comes in the element of us, Zimbabweans, failing to join forces and stand up to say NO to Mugabe’s blatant violation, barbarism and even electoral theft.
We easily fold our hands and allow Mugabe and his regime get away with anything and everything. Not that l advocate for war, but l believe civil resistance and peaceful action would have prevailed at key junctures.
For example, last year’s elections were blatantly rigged but we just complained and grumbled inside our shells. Here we have the disaster of a failed nation caused by that.

On its part, the MDC, which has been the main opposition, has also let Mugabe and his regime get away with theft by not being principled and decisive. For example, during the GNU, the MDC gradually allowed for the derailment of the reformation agenda, while it fiddled or followed Zanu PF down the garden path.
That resulted in the disaster of last year’s flawed elections.

ZT:  That was Mr. Itai Dzamara, the leader of the Occupy Africa Unity Square Initiative. Mr. Dzamara, thank you for talking to us and opening up to your fellow Zimbabweans. God bless Zimbabwe. 

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One comment

  1. Such a humble man 🙂

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