By Leopold Munhende
NAMIBIAN youths under the auspices of the Southern Africa Refugees Protection (SARP) have petitioned the Zimbabwean ambassador to their country over state sponsored rights abuses in their troubled neighbour.
The petition, signed by SARP protection officer Lukeno Hangala, notes Zimbabwe’s shrinking democratic space, militarisation of state institutions and continued abuse of citizens by government during the Covid-19 lockdown period.
“I, Lukeno Hangala, together with Southern Africa Refugees Protection, after having participated in a virtual discussion on the ‘Role of Youths in Upholding Democracy Under Uncertain Circumstances’, organised by the African Youths Solidarity Alliance (AYSA), with particular focus on Zimbabwe, am concerned about the continued shrinking of democratic space and criminalisation of civic society work in Zimbabwe,” reads the petition.
“We are concerned about entrenchment of authoritarian rule and militarisation of key state institutions in Zimbabwe while noting how the Covid-19 pandemic has led the government of Zimbabwe to curtail civil and political rights including social and economic rights under the guise of enforcing lockdown regulations.
“We do hereby petition the Zimbabwe High Commissioner to Namibia with the following demands: That the government of Zimbabwe must uphold the rule of law and respect for human rights.
“The government of Zimbabwe must stop criminalisation of civic society work and persecution of opposition activists.”
Adds the petition: “There is urgent need for demilitarisation of key state institutions in Zimbabwe, that political interference in the operation of the judiciary in Zimbabwe must stop and that the government of Zimbabwe should show sincerity in dealing with corruption which has largely contributed to the socio-economic crisis in Zimbabwe.”
Mnangagwa’s administration has been accused of capturing and weaponising state institutions by pro-democracy activists, seemingly targeted by state security agencies over the lockdown period.
Despite the change of the national leadership following the ouster of late former President Robert Mugabe 2017, the Zanu PF led government has failed to break from its delinquent past.
Incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa says his government was unfairly being judged based on false social media reports by its detractors.