HARARE, Zimbabwe – The family of a missing Zimbabwean human rights activist Tuesday won a High Court ruling overturning a police ban on a commemorative march.
Judge Clement Phiri said the demonstration, planned for the capital Harare on Wednesday to mark one year since activist Itai Dzamara was abducted, should proceed because the constitution grants rights to demonstrate peacefully.
Dzamara was seized by men who took him from a barbershop and bundled the former newspaper reporter into a waiting car with concealed number plates on March 9 last year, said his lawyer Kennedy Masiye.
"I suspect he was taken by state agents," his wife Sheffra Dzamara told The Associated Press Tuesday. The Zimbabwean government has denied responsibility. Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba said investigators are still searching for leads.
Over the past year Dzamara's family has gone to court, held frequent public prayer meetings and pushed the police and parliament to raise the profile of the case.
"I remain hopeful but so far there are no answers," said Dzamara, adding her two young children are constantly asking about their father. "Every day they ask me 'When will the people who stole our daddy return him to us?' I pray they return him alive. It has been a very difficult year."
Dzamara led a sit-in protest he called Occupy Africa Unity Square with a handful of followers in October 2014. He sat in the square in front of the parliament building, often blowing a whistle and holding up a placard stating "Mugabe must go." Two days before he was abducted, Dzamara called on Zimbabweans to rise up against Mugabe at a political rally in Harare.
The enforced disappearance of government critics "is becoming an established pattern in Zimbabwe," said Amnesty International, calling on Zimbabwe to set up a commission of inquiry into Dzamara's disappearance.