Higher and Tertiary Education minister, Jonathan Moyo, has admitted that journalist-turned-political activist, Itai Dzamara, was indeed abducted, in what could indicate souring relations with the security sector.
Posting on Twitter, Moyo, a former information minister and government spokesperson, did not specify who took Dzamara away even though State security agents are believed to be behind his disappearance.
The admission marks a U-turn in Moyo’s stance, who last year alleged that Dzamara had stage managed his own abduction and skipped into Mozambique.
It is not yet clear why Moyo made the latest admission that is likely to soil the security sector, but there are signs that his relations with the generals have turned frosty.
Moyo was once close to the army boss, Constantine Chiwenga, but he recently publicly contradicted statements that the general had made when he described the security sector as stockholders in Zimbabwean politics.
Moyo lept onto Twitter to dismiss Chiwenga’s statement, insisting Zimbabwean citizens were the real stockholders.
Moyo also recently revealed how the generals were uncomfortable with him in the ongoing Zanu (PF) factional fights in an article in a local weekly.
Moyo belongs to a Zanu (PF) faction commonly dubbed Generation 40 together with Local Government Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, and Grace Mugabe.
Chiwenga, on the other hand, is linked to a rival camp led by Vice President Emmmerson Mnangagwa.
Dzamara was the leader of a pressure group, Occupy Africa Unity Square (OAUS) that had staged a series of low key protests calling on President Robert, 92 and in power for 36 years, to go over human rights abuses and a stinging economic crisis.
He was on 9 March last year forced away in broad daylight near his home in Harare by unidentified men driving and unmarked car and it is not known if he is still alive or is being held in captivity.
His brother, Patson, recently released images of what he said could be his brother who was photographed in a tent with his face wrapped over.
On Tuesday, however, Moyo said he regretted his remarks that Dzamara had merely gone missing and had not been abducted as widely believed.
“On Dzamara, while a lot has been said, including by me, the scary and indubitable fact is that he was abducted in broad daylight.
“So yes, it’s regrettable that I have said things that have unfortunately conflated and confused a missing person with an abducted person,” he said.
He subsequently told the local media that his earlier comments “conflated and confused the situation of a missing person with that of an abducted person”, adding that the forced disappearance was satanic and devilish.
“It is common cause that Dzamara did not go missing, but that he was taken away; that is, abducted in broad daylight and has not been seen since then.
“The distinction between a missing and an abducted person is important and I regret that my comments did not make that distinction clear,” said Moyo.
“Let me also add that the right to life subject to Section 48 of our Constitution and the right to liberty are the most fundamental rights that each person must have in order to enjoy the other rights.”
Moyo joins another Zanu (PF) loyalist, Energy Mutodi, who this week apologised for claiming in March last year that Dzamara had slipped into Botswana with the help of MDC-T, the opposition party led by Morgan Tsvangirai, so as to discredit President Robert Mugabe’s government.
In a surprising turn, Mutodi issued a statement in which he admitted that he was among people who believed Dzamara had staged a false abduction with the help of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
“When the journalist (Dzamara) went missing, we all suspected it was a hoax by the MDC party to cause mayhem in the country and to precipitate an Arab Spring type of uprising against the government of President Mugabe,” said Mutodi.
The 2011 Arab Springs swept through Egypt, Tunisia and Libya when masses of people protested against their governments and led to the removal of their leaders.
Mutodi accused a young Zanu (PF) activist, Fidelis Fengu, of misleading him to post on Facebook that Dzamara had fled for Botswana.