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UN's Navi Pillay failed to press Mugabe on key issues

28 May 2012 at 13:35hrs | Views
UN's Navi Pillay failed to press Mugabe on key issues

Clifford Chitupa Mashiri, 27 May 2012

One would be excused for feeling short-changed by the UN human rights chief Ms Navi Pillay after she 'failed' to press Mugabe on key issues let alone travel beyond Harare.

Zimbabwean activists and analysts fear that Robert Mugabe is trying to steal another election by among other things disenfranchising an estimated 3 million exiles whom he cannot manipulate through violence and politicised food aid.  

It was therefore a very big disappointment that Ms Navi Pillay hardly mentioned 'Diaspora Vote' as a human right that Mugabe was violating with impunity.

Zimbabweans expected the UN rights chief to get a firm commitment from Mugabe to an election roadmap, transparency and UN supervision of the planned elections. But, there was no indication the issue of election monitoring or peacekeeping was ever put to him.

As for the missing human rights activist Paul Chizuze and the Gokwe 7 or 8 who went missing during the 2008 election violence, it was very disheartening to note that the UN rights chief Navi Pillay maintained silence on something within her mandate.

Similarly, Ms Navi Pillay's lack of mention of the outstanding issue of compensation (a basic human right) for Zimbabwean commercial white farmers whose properties were seized by the Mugabe regime under the guise of land reform was very untypical of a human rights chief.

It is an undeniable fact that land reform is yet to be conducted transparently in Zimbabwe after a up-to-date land audit.

However, Mugabe's land reform programme was more than a 'Robin Hood' style because he (Mugabe) and his inner circle became the main beneficiaries â€" with some owning on average half a dozen farms each, while the poor still need resettlement.
Pillay 'acquiesced' to what is tantamount to Zanu-pf-imposed travel restrictions and possibly a 'curfew' on her visit resulting in her unprecedented five day visit being confined to Harare only.

There was no valid reason for her failing to travel beyond Harare- not even to Bulawayo, the country's second largest city given the long duration of her stay.

It is fair to conclude that contrary to the regime's claims that it had nothing to hide the securocrats kept Navi Pillay under very close surveillance and "banned" her from visiting the controversial Chiadzwa diamond fields where proceeds are not reaching Treasury.

It remains to be confirmed whether Pillay's omission of "Diaspora Vote" and "Chiadzwa" from her 7-page lecture at UZ and also 7-page 'end of mission statement' on Friday 25 May, 2012 was deliberate or involuntary.

Zanu-pf ensured the rights chief committed herself on the controversial subject of  "sanctions" to the point that she put her credibility on the line after being 'fed' on unempirical evidence of the purported negative effects of targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe's maternal mortality rate for 2011 despite the inclusive government.

How one can draw a link between a travel ban on Mugabe, his wife and 122 of his allies from e.g. visiting the UK to a high death rate of expecting mothers and outbreaks of typhoid and cholera defies logic. Western diplomats must have been shocked.

It will be recalled that when cholera first began rampaging in December 2008, Robert Mugabe and his ministers tried to play down the epidemic then said it was a "biological warfare" waged by Britain after about 800 people had died.

Touched by news of the tragedy the UK government released funds but Mugabe's regime failed to account for proceeds from Chiadzwa diamond mining which had since started.

The Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey 2011 is not credible as it suffers from problems of reliability and validity given the hostile survey environment that is Zimbabwe.

By adopting Zanu-pf's loose definition of sanctions to describe a travel ban and asset freeze on specific individuals Pillay put her credibility into question.

Zimbabwe is under no sanctions at least in the UN context or meaning of the word because South Africa with the help of Russia and China blocked their imposition in the Security Council in July 2008.

What we have in Zimbabwe at the moment are travel restrictions and asset freezes imposed by some Western countries on specific individuals as punishment for their roles in human rights abuses and vote rigging.

Zanu-pf might have scored an own goal on its so-called sanctions court case against the EU through extensive hype and solicited commentary on state media that make a fair hearing almost impossible.

The question is 'Was Navi Pillay's 5-day visit worth it?' The answer depends on what one would have wanted her to do. In view of the foregoing discussion, just an email could have been enough.

Clifford Chitupa Mashiri is reading for a higher degree in International Relations and is due to commence a full time study for a PhD focusing on Forced Migration at the London South Bank University in September.

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Source - Clifford Chitupa Mashiri
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