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Patson Dzamara: Keeping Itai’s spirit alive

Ayear ago, Patson Dzamara was a little known leadership coach and author before a life-changing experience that has made him one of the most recognisable activists pushing for President Robert Mugabe’s exit from power.

BY OBEY MANAYITI

The abduction of Dzamara’s brother, Itai, 17 months ago by suspected State security agents forced him to take a break from his other calling to join activism fulltime.

Along with Stern Zworwadza, Dzamara has become a common feature on Harare’s streets, leading peaceful protests demanding the release of his brother and Mugabe’s resignation.

His activities have invited scorn from Zanu PF apologists who accuse him of using his brother’s disappearance to build a profile for himself.

“That is a very critical and important observation and I think the answer is actually tied to my last book Forced to Fight,” he says.

“When Itai was abducted, that actually triggered the fighter in me to emerge.

“Like I said, I think the bold description I would put on myself is, I am a leader and a fighter. So when Itai was abducted the fighter in me was prompted to emerge, it was a trigger mechanism of some sort,” Dzamara added.

“It’s true for people to proffer such an explanation and I think it’s valid that prior to my brother’s abduction I was not known in activism circles, but I was known somewhere where I have established my footprint. It took the activist in me to emerge when Itai was abducted.”

He said Zimbabweans had to overcome fear if they were to make the government accountable.

“Zimbabweans are fearful because of what they have been exposed to,” Dzamara said.

“Now the dynamics are moving slowly but surely and we are seeing some progress where people are beginning to stand up. That in its self is a good step in the right direction.

“I do believe ultimately, it might not be us who will welcome the new Zimbabwe but at least we are laying the foundation.

“However, our hope and wish is that we will also be able to welcome a new Zimbabwe during our lifetime.”

He said removing Mugabe and Zanu PF from power was never going to be easy.

“We understand that we are dealing with a deeply entrenched system,” Dzamara said.

“It took over 36 years for them to entrench their well-oiled and well-resourced system and we do not have the expertise and experience that they have and for us to think it will be a stroll in the park, that will be over ambitious on our part, but we do believe certainly this is something we will achieve.”

Dzamara said he would not confine himself to any activist group and would participate in any demonstration that sought to dislodge Mugabe from power.

He said he had a very good relationship with Pastor Evan Mawarire of #ThisFlag movement

Dzamara described Itai as his best friend from childhood. He believes the many protests he has undertaken with some of Itai’s friends from the Occupy Unity Africa Square movement had ensured that the activist’s case was not forgotten.

“I can bet my bottom dollar that had it not been that I took a solid stand, by now everyone would have forgotten about Itai. His name is still alive in the conversations because I chose to fight,” Patson said.

He said although they were hurt by Itai’s abduction, the fight was no longer about his brother but a campaign to end abductions in Zimbabwe.

“Whatever we are doing in the name of Itai Dzamara is no longer about Itai, but it has transcended and we are using him to set precedence against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe,” he said.

“For the past 36 years Zimbabweans have been forced to endure gross human rights abuses under the hegemony of Mugabe and his minions.”

Before joining activism full time, Dzamara attained qualifications in various disciplines such as business leadership, marketing, psychology, theology and administration.

Dzamara said he also attained a PhD at Christ University in India in 2014 and had so far published seven books, one of them titled Forced to Fight.

“I am a leadership coach and practitioner. My purpose revolves around leadership,” he added.

“Ever since my formative years I have cherished and radiated an inclination towards leadership development and practice.”

In the past two months Zimbabwe has almost on a daily basis witnessed demonstrations against Mugabe and the Zanu PF government as the economy continues to deteriorate.

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