By Anna Chibamu
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa should reform sooner rather than later or face overthrow by angry citizens who have endured continued abuse under his regime, an international human rights defender has warned.
Paula Garivia, a Colombian human rights expert who left Zimbabwe last week after a week-long visit, told NewZimbabwe.com that it was important for Mnangagwa’s administration to treat citizens humanely to avoid unnecessary loss of lives.
“Soon or later, change is going to come and society is going to be more aware that it is not right to cause more harm; it is not good to cause suffering to people,” Garivia said in an interview.
“President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government needs to realise that soon or later, aggrieved citizens will push for their freedom and change.”
Her warning comes against the background of continued state repression on the opposition and civil society leaders.
Police have also declined to sanction most public events lined up by main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.
On Friday this week, police in Masvingo used water cannons to disperse hundreds of MDC members who had attended a High Court hearing in solidarity with party Vice Chairperson Job Sikhala. Several people were reported to have been injured in the skirmishes.
However, Garivia advised Mnangagwa to take responsibility and heal all political wounds.
“This is an opportunity to work on healing those wounds and helping recover and taking care of everything that happened.
“Moving forward is to acknowledge and assume responsibility on what happened. You can find solutions that are suitable for the country, for the culture for the expectations but that step of finding each other is important,” Garivia said.
She gave reference to serious human rights violations committed by State agents in Colombia where over 30 000 people were killed mercilessly in 2002 as hundreds others disappeared during the infamous Bojaya Massacre in Bojaya Town.
However, Garivia said the Colombian government managed to take responsibility and accept blame. She said the country was now at peace with itself and its economy was growing.
“Be honest, no fake promises. It is better to say ‘I will not do it’ than to say I will do it in three years but then never do it,” Garivia said.
Mnangagwa has also been accused as being one of the key architects of similar killings in Zimbabwe in the early 1980s.
The Gukurahundi killings of the early years of independence in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces left over 20 000 people dead.
During her stay in Zimbabwe, Garivia held meetings with several senior officials from various civil society organisations and representatives of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC).