By Leopold Munhende
CRISIS in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) last week met with African and international diplomats where they rallied them to pile pressure on the President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime and end Zimbabwe’s worsening crises.
During the interaction, the human rights organisations took the opportunity to highlight concerns such as judicial capture by the Zanu PF government and their cronies, increasing cases of arbitrary arrests of opposition and civil society activists and the continued disregard for electoral results including parliamentary recalls.
The Rashid Mahiya chaired CiZC called on SADC to take an active role in dealing with Zimbabwe’s political, social and economic crises that have worsened since the November 2017 military coup.
“During the meeting, the Crisis Coalition and Human Rights Watch noted with concern the closure of the democratic space in Zimbabwe which has been characterised by arbitrary arrests of civic society and opposition activists, lengthy pre-trial detention of pro-democracy activists and draconian legislation meant to entrench the ruling party, Zanu PF’s authoritarian rule,” a communique issued after the meeting by the CiZC reads.
“Other issues highlighted to the diplomats include weaponisation of the judiciary to persecute pro-democracy activists, subversion of the people’s will through recalls of Parliamentarians who won elections on the MDC Alliance ticket as well as continued harassment of human rights campaigners by activists aligned to the ruling party Zanu PF.
“Abuse of Covid 19 regulations to clampdown on citizens’ fundamental rights was also highlighted as an issue of major concern during the meeting.
“Another issue highlighted during the meeting is the continued involvement of the military in civilian and political processes.
“The diplomats were briefed that this trend had worsened since the November 2017 military coup that led to the ascendancy of President Emmerson Mnangagwa to power and that the government of Zimbabwe continues to use terror to silence dissent.
“The diplomats were also told that corruption and militarisation of the state has worsened the economic and political crises in Zimbabwe.”
CiZC and HRW warned harmonised elections set for 2023 could be worse.
Added the communique: “The Crisis Coalition and Human Rights Watch noted during the meeting that as Zimbabwe heads for the 2023 elections, there is a high likelihood that the political and economic crisis in the country will worsen especially given the military involvement in political processes.”
State security agents have been on overdrive in the past year, clamping down on dissent by arresting, abducting and harassing opposing voices.
MDC Alliance President Nelson Chamisa told journalists a fortnight ago, his party accounted for over 90% of political prisoners locked up for questioning the Mnangagwa regime.
Said Mahiya: “The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has an important role to play in as far as resolving the Zimbabwean crisis is concerned hence the need for intervention by the regional body.
“There should be a clear roadmap for political, economic, electoral and institutional reforms as well as a clear implementation matrix of the reforms. Reforms are critical for credible elections in Zimbabwe.”