Human rights abuses

CSOs plot to expose Mugabe’s human rights abuses at SADC


August 23, 2016

LOCAL civil society organisations (CSOs) have threatened to picket the on-going SADC Summit and present a dossier containing President Robert Mugabe’s human rights violations, including government’s refusal to implement electoral reforms.

Mugabe, who is facing spontaneous protests across the country over his alleged misgovernance, is expected to join other SADC Heads of State and government next week.

Part of the dossier read: “Noting the multifaceted challenges afflicting Zimbabwe, underpinned on gross economic retardation; that continue to result in worsening poverty and a failure by public entities to adequately deliver on key services; has led to the growing chorus by citizens, across various sectors, calling on government to act on the key issues fuelling economic malaise in the country.

“The multiple effects of the actions of the government…, which have already shown potential to cause instability across borders of SADC States at various levels, including from a political, social and economic perspective, therefore warrant the attention and action of SADC, as provided for in the Constitutive Treaty of the SADC.”

The CSOs said plans by Mugabe’s government to introduce retrogressive legislation to silence dissent were a clear violation of people’s rights.

“Further to this, the government has continued to fail to decisively address the scourge of corruption, which it also admits is a key driver of the failure by government to rescue the comatose economy,” the CSOs stated.

They further said democratic reforms have been stalled since 2013 as the government has not been committed to implement the SADC election guidelines.

“As such, Zimbabwe continues to be governed through laws that are in direct contravention of the Constitution adopted in 2013. Further to this, freedoms of the media, expression, association and choice remain heavily curtailed, as various laws still persist curtailing the very freedoms that are enshrined in the Constitution,” the groups said.

“One of the agreed principles during the inclusive government was to institute reforms on key areas such as electoral systems that guarantee democratic elections as specified by SADC guidelines, security sector reforms to allow for a non-partisan security force, but all this has been stalled. The military has recently threatened a clampdown on citizens and civilians who use social media and protests against the government.”

The CSOs stated that the government’s excesses and failure to address the economic question has scaled up protests which the State dealt with in a heavy-handed manner. They said this has resulted in indiscriminate arrests, extra-judicial assaults, torture, harassment and intimidation of civilians, including children; especially those that have dared to challenge government to address the most pertinent issues of citizens.

“The government continues to use the State police to clamp down on protesters, the church and civic organizers, with the police in-turn committing heinous acts of brutalising citizens, many of which have been captured on camera, however, no arrests have been made on these police officers who have clearly been in violation of our legal statutes, the constitution as well as regional instruments barring the use of torture on civilians.

“Ironically, we have seen the same police in a show of blatant partisanship, as they have allowed protests and demonstrations by the ruling Zanu PF-aligned entities to proceed without incident, with the police actually providing escort to such events.”

They asked the SADC Heads of States to openly condemn brutalisation and heavy handedness portrayed by government on genuinely concerned citizens and to urge Mugabe to uphold constitutionally-provided freedoms.

The CSOs also pleaded with SADC to urge Mugabe to order investigations on police officers accused of using brute force to crush dissent.

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