The Heads of Civil Society Coalitions (HoCSC), which comprises of apex bodies of civil society coalitions in Zimbabwe, is deeply concerned with the deteriorating human rights situation in the country. Developments of the last few weeks speak to a deepening crisis that is being causally approached with denialism, arrogance and further violation of human rights by government.
The HoCSC decry the treatment of political prisoners. Accused persons remain innocent until proven guilty, and are entitled to all pre-trial rights in terms of the Constitution. This includes the right to bail, the right to legal counsel of one’s choice, right to speedy resolution of legal proceedings – including bail proceedings, and the right to humane detention conditions – including access to food and social visits. The treatment of Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume is extra-constitutional, and is seemingly designed to discourage any form of dissent.
Government’s dismissive responses to citizen concerns are worrisome. The government’s violent and unrestrained response to the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC)’s pastoral letter of 14 August 2020 calling for an end to State-sponsored human rights violations, crackdown on dissent and corruption, induces a sense of shock. One wonders what is untoward about the Church calling out abuses, and advancing calls for peace and nation-building through inclusive dialogue. The HoCSC stand in solidarity with the Church and ordinary citizens who continue to raise the call to action to solve the man-made crisis we find ourselves in.
We have in the past few days witnessed denialism and dismissive responses from the government, including in response to concerns raised by the Southern African government and the African Union Commission. The Zimbabwean crisis will not self-correct, and blanket denialism and diversion will simply serve deepen existing challenges. The government remains duty-bound to ensure the welfare and security of Zimbabweans.
We call upon the government to embrace divergent views, shun tribal and hate speech and treat citizens humanely. The time is opportune for government to engage in genuine dialogue with citizens and all stakeholders, and work towards political, socio-economic reforms, a peaceful and definitive resolution to Zimbabwe’s long suffering. The march is, indeed, not ended.
Source: Heads of Civil Society Coalitions (HoCSC)