THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) and the International Federation of Human Rights (FiDH) condemn in the strongest terms the Zimbabwean government’s increasing authoritarian tendencies in response to citizen grievances on the worsening state of the economy.
The violent response of the security forces following the call for a mass stay away by trade unions and civic groups, which once again saw the shooting of civilians with live ammunition and mass incarceration of over 700 people, is great cause for concern.
Among the incarcerated are prominent civil rights activist, religious and leaders of #ThisFlag citizen movement, Pastor Evan Mawarire, leaders and members of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU), and main opposition MDC Alliance National Organising Secretary and Member of Parliament for Mkoba, Hon. Amos Chibaya.
Some of the citizens have been put through fast track trials or questionably denied bail which are mockery of justice.
ZimRights and FiDH also denounce the intimidation on ZimRights Director, Okay Machisa, who was visited by about 20 suspected state agents travelling in a mini-bus, and two trucks purportedly in search of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) director, Rashid Mahiya.
Meanwhile, the government continues a manhunt and midnight raids on a dozen activists and human rights defenders.
The latest crackdown on human rights in Zimbabwe comes after the government in 2018 had instituted a Commission of Inquiry into the fatal shootings of at least six civilians and injury of many others in a post-election demonstration on August 1, 2018.
These repeated incidences show the government’s disdain for the right to life in particular and disrespect for human rights in general, which is in violation of the Constitution of Zimbabwe’s Declaration of Rights and the United Nations’ (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UHDR).
Equally, ZimRights and FiDH condemn the violence by suspicion people who hijacked last Monday’s protests which led to the burning down of key state property such as police stations, vehicles and toll-gates as well as looting of shops, which is in violation of Section 59 of the Constitution’s requirement that protests must be peaceful.
ZimRights and FiDH are of the view that the current crisis in Zimbabwe can only be resolved through peaceful means and multi-dialogue.
The current state of the economy and the political crisis are a direct result of the disputed 2018 harmonised elections.
The recent riots have undoubtedly been sparked by the several months of the worsening socioeconomic situation in the country, characterised by fuel shortages, household food insecurity, price hikes, civil servants strikes, and shortages of basic commodities.
ZimRights and FiDH are also worried by the government’s undemocratic decision to shut down internet services and social networking sites such as Facebook, You Tube and Twitter across the country.
The undemocratic decision, first ever in Zimbabwe, ostensibly for security reasons comes at a time when the Human Right to Internet is increasingly being recognised in the international human rights framework.
ZimRights and FiDH are also disconcerted by the attempts by the government of Zimbabwe through its public utterances in response to citizen protests to criminalise non-governmental organisations (NGOs), especially in the democracy and governance sector, through hate language and labelling.
ZimRights and FiDH make the following demands:
- The government of Zimbabwe should cease all utterances meant to denigrate and alienate civil society organisations and their leaders in the country.
- President Emmerson Mnangagwa should cut his foreign trip to Eastern Europe and World Economic Forum in Davos to address the political and economic emergency in the country.
- The government of Zimbabwe should immediately institute a multi-stakeholder national dialogue including the church, civil society, business, labour, students, academics and political parties to address the national crisis.
- All forms of persecution against political activists including arbitrary arrests and attempted abductions must be ceased forthwith and the government must uphold the constitution and human rights.
- The current shutdown of social media sites and repeated interruption of Internet services is undemocratic and violates the constitutional rights to freedom of the media, freedom of expression and right to access information and must be ceased forthwith.
- All political players and citizens must cease all forms of violence and destruction of property.
- The international community, particularly the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union, must abandon its wait and see attitude and help resolve the Zimbabwean crisis before it spins out of hand and spills into the region.
Takesure Musiiwa (ZimRights Chairperson)
Okay Machisa (ZimRights Director)