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Statement on violence, instability and victimization of civil society leaders, the media and ordinary citizens
Zimbabwean civil society organisations
April 01, 2011

We as Civil Society Groups strongly condemn the resurgence of violence accompanying ZANU PF's rush to lections. The violence, typical of ZANU PF campaigns is characterized by beatings; displacing of over 140 Mbare and Epworth residents; charging of 45 civil society activists with treason for watching a movie; detaining CSO leaders and raiding their offices; burning newspapers; looting foreign African owned shops; and invading private property.

Rural communities have not been spared. In events reminiscent of the bloody June 2008 "Presidential Election Run-off," former and fake liberation war combatants have been deployed in communities to coerce them into voting for ZANU PF.

As Civil Society, we lament the inaction of the police in maintaining law and order, leaving citizens to be brutalized and business looted. Demonstrations against foreign businesses have taken a xenophobic tone, which should not be tolerated by any right thinking nation, especially one whose citizens have been victims of similar attacks.

Police inaction vindicates Zimbabwean's demands for non-partisan policing and the need for security sector reforms to guarantee the security of citizens.

We note with disappointment that the country's security has not intervened to protect citizen's rights and interest in keeping with its constitutional mandate. We note with concern that Zimbabwe's 7th Parliament has done little to repeal repressive legislation and create an enabling legislative environment for opening democratic space.

We demand that the Zimbabwean Government:

1. Respect its primary responsibility of protecting its citizens through arresting the violence and ensuring that perpetrators of acts of violence and intimidation are brought to book.

2. Desist from targeting Civil Society actors going about their work, through unwarranted police action and interference.

3. Condemn xenophobic and racist attacks which are being carried out under the guise of indigenization.

4. Rein-in their political followers in order to maintain peace and stability in the country.

5. Respect diversity and freedom of the media to operate without any hindrance.

6. Ensure the transformation of the state media especially ZBC, into true public service news outlets, which reflect all shades of Zimbabwean opinion.

7. Facilitate the urgent repeal and amendments to repressive pieces of legislation such as Public Order and Security Act, Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and other laws that impede rather than facilitate Zimbabweans' full enjoyment of their basic liberties.

8. Urgently reform state institutions, such as the judiciary and the security sector, in order for them to execute their duties in a professional and non-partisan manner that puts the country ahead of partisan interests.

We urge the Southern African development Community (SADC) and the Facilitator of Political Dialogue in Zimbabwe, President Jacob Zuma to:

1. Deliver a road map that countenances these worrying developments against ZANU's rush to rigged elections without reforms in 2011.

2. Urge ZANU PF to stop violence and intimidation.

3. Note that the developing crisis in Zimbabwe poses a potent threat to regional security through mass migration of displaced people.

4. Urgently consider calls by Civil Society for a close and permanent monitoring presence in Zimbabwe, as talk of election continues to gain momentum amongst political actors.

5. Declare that given the situation on the ground, key reforms should take place ahead of talk of elections. A Road Map to Elections will lay out clear benchmarks for the holding of democratic elections. The Road Map should, among other things, deal with violence and intimidation of citizens, remove impendent to freedom of expression such as repressive laws and unprofessional and partisan conduct by the justice and security sector.

6. Urge the African Union to come good on its promises of an assessment mission to Zimbabwe in the 1st quarter of the year to assess Zimbabwe's readiness for elections.

We urge Zimbabweans to:

1. Exercise restraint and desist from used as instruments of violence, or being provoked to justify further crack down on citizens, the media and perceived ZANU PF opponents.

2. Stay firm in their struggle and pursuit of a democratic dispensation that will restore their human dignity, economic justice and guarantee the civil liberties eroded by years of tyrannical rule.

Signatory Organizations to the above Statement
1. Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
2. Media Institute of Southern Africa (Zimbabwe Chapter)
3. Centre for Public Accountability
4. Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe
5. Bulawayo Agenda
6. Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association
7. National Youth Development Trust
8. National Constitutional Assembly
9. Students Solidarity Trust
10. Elections Resource Centre
11. Heal Zimbabwe Trust
12. Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights)
13. Youth Initiative for Democracy in Zimbabwe
14. Radio Dialogue
15. Youth Forum
16. Youth in Politics
17. Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe
18. Platform for Youth Development Trust
19. Gays and Lesbians in Zimbabwe
20. Coalition Against Censorship Zimbabwe (CACZ)
21. Bulawayo Arts Forum (BAF)
22. Nhimbe Trust
23. Christian Alliance
24. Ecumenical Support Services
25. Zimbabwe National Students Union
26. Counseling Services Unit
27. Zimbabwe Farmers Union Development Trust
28. Transparency International - Zimbabwe
29. Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust
30. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
31. Zimbabwe Young Women's Network for Peace-Building
32. Doors of Hope Development Trust
33. Katswe Sistahood
34. Savanna Trust
35. Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe
36. National Association for Non Governmental Organizations
37. Restoration of Human Rights
38. Youth Alliance for Democracy
39. Chiredzi Community Development Agenda
40. Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise
41. Zimbabwe Youth Movement
42. Veritas
43. Build a Better Youth Zimbabwe
44. Combined Harare Residents Association
45. Non Violence Action Support Centre
46. Zimbabwe Students Christian Movement
47. Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe
48. Zimbabwe United Residents Association
49. Zimbabwe Elections Support Network
50. Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
51. Zimbabwe Coalition for Debt and Development
52. Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights
53. Institute for Young Women Development
54. Youth Agenda Trust
55. Women in Politics Support Unit
56. National Association for the Care of the Handicapped

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