UN Rights Rappateur Leaves NGOs Disappointed After Calling For Sanctions Removal

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By Leopold Munhende

ZIMBABWE Human Rights NGO Forum executive director Musa Kika has described United Nations Special Rapporteur on Unilateral Coercive Measures and Human Rights, Alena Douhan’s report on the Zimbabwean situation as disappointing.

Details of the preliminary report, set to be presented to journalists were released in a press statement by the Information Ministry, Thursday.

Douhan called on America and other western countries to remove targeted restrictions on Zimbabwean individuals and corporates as that was worsening the human rights situation in the country.

Kudakwashe Tagwireyi, whose stock has risen massively under the President Emmerson Mnangagwa regime amid numerous cases of corruption, fraud and state capture is one of the figures on the American sanctions list.

“Over the last 20 years, sanctions and various forms of over-compliance with sanctions have had an insidious ripple effect on the economy of Zimbabwe and on the enjoyment of fundamental human rights, including access to health, food, safe drinking water and sanitation, education and employment,” Douhan said.

“This situation also limits Zimbabwe’s ability to guarantee the functioning of public institutions, delivery of services and maintenance of essential infrastructure, and undermines the right to development of the Zimbabwean people and impedes the achievement of the sustainable development goals. The United States of America and other states should lift their sanctions on targeted individuals and entities an end over-compliance,” she said.

“The time is ripe for sanctioning states and key national stakeholders to engage in a meaningful structured dialogue on political reform, human rights and the rule of law and abandon rhetoric on sanctions as an advocacy tool.”

Kika who led Civic Society leaders who met her on Monday said none of their contributions had been noted in the statement except “subtle” calls for dialogue and the Zanu PF government to stop using sanctions as an advocacy tool.

Effects of sanctions, which Douhan had come to assess, have been blamed for Zimbabwe’s deteriorating economic and political situation by ruling Zanu PF since its members and supporting organisations were added onto the lists and their offshore assets frozen.

“We met her on 25 October at the UN offices as civil society, and we gave her our views,” Kika said.

“We reflected on our experience as human rights practitioners, suffice to say that we believe Zimbabwe’s human rights violations have nothing to do with foreign restrictive measures, but are perpetrated on the people by the State due to impunity, absence of meaningful rule of law, decimation of the constitution, corruption and general bad governance. Her statement fails to capture in any meaningful way the picture of the state of human rights in Zimbabwe, it is a disappointing statement,” Kika added.

“There is really nothing there on what civil society advanced, perhaps the subtle acknowledgment that there is a human rights crisis, the call for dialogue and for the government to stop using sanctions as an advocacy tool.”

Douhan’s stance will receive massive support from pro-Zanu PF agencies and regional body Southern Africa Development Committee (SADC) which adopted 25 October as Anti-Sanctions Day in solidarity with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime.

It remains to be seen how America, the European Union (EU), Australia and other states will react to the statement as they have always maintained Zimbabwe’s main problems are corruption and disrespect for basic human rights.