By Anna Chibamu
AMNESTY International has called on SADC leaders to fix the fast deteriorating human rights and political situation in Zimbabwe and that of the region.
The global rights lobby made the statement ahead of a SADC annual summit this coming week.
“SADC leaders must urgently take concrete measures to fix the human rights crisis in the region when they meet at their annual summit next week,” Amnesty International Director for East and Southern Africa Deprose Muchena said Friday.
Zimbabwe has in the recent past, made global news for all the wrongs amid a fierce crackdown on opposition politicians and government critics by the state.
But all eyes will be on the virtual SADC Heads of State and Government Summit to see if the regional bloc will be able to confront the fresh crisis in its delinquent member country.
The past week has seen heightened attention on the Zimbabwe situation with South Africans raising their voices against abuses next door.
A South African government minister this week said Zimbabwe has a crisis that needs urgent attention to preserve the dignity of its citizens.
Last weekend, African Union chairperson and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa sent special envoys to Zimbabwe to meet President Emmerson Mnangagwa whose administration has however denied there was a crisis in the country.
According to Amnesty International, government’s clampdown on peaceful dissent in countries such Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Eswatini have been the order of the day in recent months.
“A number of countries in the SADC region are experiencing alarming human rights violations and abuses threatening peace and stability and hindering the response to COVID-19.
“In Zimbabwe, authorities have stepped up a crackdown on dissenting voices with state security forces unleashed on activists, human rights defenders, journalists and opposition supporters,” said Muchena.”
Amnesty lnternational condemned Zimbabwean authorities for the renewed assault on human rights including the right to freedom of expression in recent months, especially targeting journalists, activists and human rights defenders who have spoken out against alleged corruption and called for peaceful protests.
Said the rights lobby, “SADC leaders have a responsibility to address the human rights crisis which is unfolding across the region, including by allowing people to freely exercise their human rights and strengthening protections for women and girls’ rights.
“If they fail to take steps to protect the most vulnerable, they will be betraying the SADC’s founding principles, which obligate their governments to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the human rights of everyone.”