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UN remind Zanu PF of the right to peaceful demo - UN favourite, bolting door after horse has bolted

15 Jul 2020 at 18:37hrs | Views
The release of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule's report on Zimbabwe, just two weeks before the 31 July 2020 street protests is fortuitous. The root causes behind the public unrest have not gone away, if anything things are worse now than before and the future prospects are grime, and so as long as the fire burns more fiercely than ever the pot will boil.

"The special rapporteur is conscious that political polarisation, poor governance and a fragile economy exacerbated discontentment with the government and prompted demonstrations and strikes," Voule said.

The special rapporteur made it abandonly clear that the people have a right to peaceful demonstration to express their discontent; a constitutional right, not a privilege, which the Zanu PF government has forcefully and repeatedly denied. He sited the 1st August 2018 post July 2018 rigged elections protest and the two weeks soaring cost of living protest in January 2019 in which 6 and 18 people were shot dead respectively.

"Regarding the use of force, the commission concluded that 'the use of live ammunition directed at people, especially when they were fleeing was clearly unjustified and disproportionate' and it added that ‘(t)he use of sjamboks, baton sticks and rifle butts to assault members of the public indiscriminately was also disproportionate'," stated the report.

The tragic reality is Zimbabwe's economic meltdown is getting decidedly worse not better, the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the decline; there are a lot more people living in abject poverty and desperate for change. Sadly, in Zimbabwe the only hope for meaningful change is violent uprising.

The opportunity for peaceful democratic change has been slammed shut in the faces. Ever since Zimbabwe gained her independence in 1980, the country has never ever held free, fair and credible elections. Never ever!

President Emmerson Mnangagwa blatantly rigged the July 2018 elections just as blatantly as Zanu PF had rigged elections in the past.

Yes, Zanu PF would not have got away with rigged elections without the help of the corrupt and incompetent MDC opposition party. It was Morgan Tsvangirai and his fellow MDC leaders' failure to implement even one democratic reform in 20 years of the party's existence which has allowed Zanu PF to retain its carte blanche powers to rig elections.

By participating in flawed and illegal elections MDC (doing it out of greed) have given the process credibility and by extension the result some modicum of legitimacy. And it is from this phony legitimacy that Zanu PF claims its mandate to govern and justifies its brutal repression.

"We have noted statements from some social media platforms to plan and organise violent (31st July) protests and overthrow a constitutionally-elected Government," commented Patrick Chinamasa, following the Zanu PF politburo meeting.

"Those who are plotting anarchy should know that ZANU-PF is not sleeping. This time we are ready and we will not allow a repeat of what happened before.

"Those doing so must stand warned and the law will not hesitate to deal with those. Our democracy and rule of law is very clear on how a Government is constituted. The (politburo) meeting advised those planning to sneak themselves into Government violently through the back-door to desist from such devious agendas because they will have themselves to blame."

The central question here is Zanu PF's claim that it is the "constitutionally-elected government" when it is not. All the observers of the July 2018 elections have dismissed the whole process as a farce.

"The electoral commission lacked full independence and appeared to not always act in an impartial manner. The final results as announced by the Electoral Commission contained numerous errors and lacked adequate traceability, transparency and verifiability," stated the EU Election Observer Mission final report.

It was impossible to verify anything when the elections went ahead without something as basic as a verified voters' roll!

The one organisation that has repeatedly said nothing about Zimbabwe's failure to hold free, fair and credible elections is the UN. Whilst UNDP and other arms of the UN have played a key role in Zimbabwe's elections, UN bankrolled the drafting of the 2013 constitution, for example; the UN said nothing about the blatant rigging of elections.

Whilst the efforts of the UN Special rapporteur on rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association are welcomed, one has to question the sincerity of the UN in the case of Zimbabwe. Does the UN seriously expect a vote rigging and per se illegitimate regime that has just blatantly denied the people their right to a meaningful say in the governance of the country to grant them the right to protest the denial or anything else?

As we can see Zanu PF is gearing for yet another brutal confrontation to silence dissent and hang on to power at all cost. What good will yet another UN Special rapporteur on rights to peaceful assembly condemning the brutal repression do for the nation?

UN should not be wasting time and energy trying to get an illegitimate government to honour the citizens' rights and freedoms; for that is tantamount to bolting the stable door after the horse has bolted! The UN should spend it time, energy, sweat and blood in getting a legitimate government!

What Zimbabwe needs is UN Special rapporteur on rights to free, fair and credible elections and secure a legitimate government! With a legitimate government, there is hope of securing all the universal freedoms and rights.

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