Zimbabwe: Concern Builds for Missing Human Rights Activist

Concern is building in Zimbabwe over the fate of a human rights activist who has been missing for 20 days. Paul Chizuze has been missing since the 8th February and his friends and colleagues have launched a campaign on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter, to try and find out where he is.

Pressure group Sokwanele posted an alert on its website saying Chizuze “Allegedly left his home around 8 pm on 8th February, and what happened after this remains a mystery. He may have been murdered, hijacked or abducted by parties unknown.” His car, a white twin cab Nissan Hardbody (registration ACJ 3446) is also missing.

“Over the last three decades, Paul has been either employed by, or active with, the Legal Resources Foundation, Amani Trust Matabeleland, The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, ZimRights, Churches in Bulawayo, CivNet, and Masakhaneni Trust,” a statement from his friends said.

His friends say he has worked tirelessly as a paralegal to track activists in jail and offer them support. Chizuze was part of the campaign to uncover the truth of what happened to Patrick Nabanyama, after his abduction and disappearance in 2000, and “has selflessly worked to expose human rights abuses in the last decade.”

Nabanyama, an election agent for MDC parliamentary candidate David Coltart, was abducted by 10 armed state operatives and never seen again. It was no surprise that Coltart, now Education Minister, used his twitter page to say he was “distressed by disappearance of friend and human rights activist Paul Chizuze”.

Coltart has known Chizuze for over 20 years and told SW Radio Africa that Chizuze “was one of the first paralegals I employed as Director of the Bulawayo Legal Projects Centre in the late 1980’s.”

Coltart said Chizuze also worked with the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and was one of the researchers into the ‘Breaking the Silence’ report into the Gukurahundi Massacres.

The Bulawayo24 website quoted Chizuze’s sister, Maxim Phiri, saying he had been visiting a brother and after he left in his car has not been seen since. “He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt and khaki trousers. We are worried about his whereabouts and we appeal to members of the public to assist us to search for him.”

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