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FULL TEXT: CAF statement on human rights abuses in Zimbabwe

21 Aug 2020 at 13:07hrs | Views
The Concerned Africans Forum has taken note of the deteriorating economic and humanitarian conditions facing Zimbabweans as well as the diplomatic engagement between the South African and Zimbabwean governments. The appointment by South Africa of Special Envoys, offering assistance to Zimbabwe, affords an opportunity for all stakeholders to begin working together in finding solutions to the escalating tensions and deteriorating social and economic conditions.

CAF is in agreement that a political solution is critical to any effective effort to address the socio-economic decline that has characterised Zimbabwe since the 2018 election. A lack of confidence in state institutions, policy uncertainty, contradictory messaging and conflict around the legitimacy of electoral outcomes, have exacerbated political tensions, raised security concerns and escalated the rate of socio-economic decline.

It has become clear that the leadership of President Mnangagwa has lost credibility amongst Zimbabweans and is facing a deep crisis of legitimacy. Internal threats from within the party, including those associated with the military, ongoing challenges from the political opposition, and critical voices from the civic movement, including trade unions, the churches and professional associations, are all indicative of a state that is rapidly losing the ability to govern. Tensions within and between the Zimbabwe National Army and the Zimbabwe Republic Police add a sinister layer of complexity to the deteriorating situation.

Allegations of serious human rights violations carried out during the COVID-19 pandemic are a cause of further concern. The African Union communiqué in this regard, that draws attention to the Banjul African Charter on Human and People's Rights, should serve notice that the only acceptable way forward is a legitimate and credible political process. Abusive security force actions, including gender and sexual violence, cannot be tolerated. The Government of Zimbabwe must be condemned for trampling on the Rule of Law and failing to protect its citizens.

The Government of Zimbabwe appears to be in a state of denial. In 2008 the collapsed economy, the hyper-inflation, and the lack of political legitimacy that followed a violent electoral process, all contributed to conditions that required an externally facilitated negotiation process. The Global Political Agreement that emerged from this process offered Zimbabweans a chance to work together in a Government of National Unity.

But the gains that were made during the period of the GNU have been eroded, by a winner takes all approach to state power and the militarised removal of former President Mugabe. Zimbabwe has a long history of political assassinations, disappearances and abductions. Once again the state appears to have reverted to these methods in order to stamp its authority. Unresolved tensions from the wounds of the Gukurahundi massacres add to the growing sense that Zimbabwe is back on the brink of collapse.

The Zimbabwean conflict shows every sign of intractability. Domestic processes are seen as disingenuous. The Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) convened by President Mnangagwa is
 
not representative of the electoral base and has not established serious credibility. Efforts to destabilise opposition political parties, and internal wrangling amongst the opposition, have contributed to the inability of domestic efforts to find resolution. State led political initiatives, including the Matabeleland Collective and the President's Advisory Council appear to be disingenuous, and are unlikely to establish a useful way forward.

Concerted efforts are required to establish a clear roadmap to peace that can begin to rebuild the economy and the country. The deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe has an impact far beyond its borders. It is increasingly clear that, once again, the reality of the conditions facing Zimbabweans cannot be ignored by the region or the continent. South Africa has extended a hand of assistance in finding solutions, but multi-lateral regional and continental efforts are also urgently required.

CAF calls on progressive forces in the region and on the continent to work together to find ways of engaging and supporting Zimbabweans to take up their rightful place in Southern Africa, Africa and the rest of the World. Zimbabweans need to be the ones to define the nature of the problems they face and establish a clear agenda of what is to be done.

The current political impasse, and the emergent threats of instability from within the ruling party, are an obstacle to this process. A political process is required. The ruling party must sit down with the MDC Alliance and negotiate the process for a frank discussion between all stakeholders on how to re-establish a clear roadmap for Zimbabweans, and for Africans in the region and on the continent. SADC and the AU must intervene decisively to assist Zimbabwe in solving its problems before it is too late.

The offers of assistance to Zimbabwe from regional member states and African institutions should be seen as an opportunity to break the political impasse and engage in a fresh process of dialogue that identifies and addresses the fundamental roots of the challenges facing Zimbabweans.

The international community must also take note of the concerns raised around the continued imposition of sanctions and economic measures against Zimbabwe. The SADC Statement on these measures is clear in this regard. The sanctions have exacerbated and prolonged the situation in Zimbabwe, and should be lifted with immediate effect.

The international community must allow Zimbabweans to find each other, and explore ways of supporting regionally led efforts to provide assistance. The association of the economic sanctions with an imperialist, colonial agenda detract from any other intentions they may have had. A SADC/AU supported political process will establish sufficient stability and legitimacy to enable the lifting of these measures.

CAF urges the progressive leadership of Zimbabwe, South Africa, SADC and the African Union to work together in their efforts to urgently initiate processes that will engage all Zimbabweans in the collective imperative of charting a political way forward.

Mongane Wally Serote CAF CHAIR



Source - Concerned Africans Forum
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