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civil society statement to the 20th African Union Summit on the
Implementation of the GPA in Zimbabwe and forthcoming elections
Zimbabwean Civil Society Organisations
January 28, 2013
As the African
Heads of State meet in Addis Ababa , Ethiopia, we the Zimbabwean
civil society would like to commend SADC, AU and the international
community for having made some progress in ensuring that the GPA
is implemented in letter and spirit so that Zimbabwe can hold a
credible, indisputable, free and fair election.
We would like
to thank the SADC Troika on Peace, Defence and Security for its
undeterred efforts towards ensuring the full implementation of the
electoral road map and its unparalled dedication in resolving the
reform gridlock in Zimbabwe. We also take note of the SADC Troika's
recent resolution on Zimbabwe which was made in Tanzania towards
the end of 2012 where the inclusive government of Zimbabwe was encouraged
to implement requisite reforms before holding elections.
SADC and with the help
of the AU continue to play a pivotal role in collectively making
decisions that will help Zimbabwe transit to a democracy. The role
by the African citizens in offering solidarity to distressed brothers
and sisters in the continent cannot be underestimated while their
efforts have gone a long way in keeping their governments on check
particularly on issues that have a bearing on the future of Zimbabwe.
As Zimbabweans, we are
cognisant of the crises facing our brothers and sisters in Mali,
Sudan and Central Africa Republic. We urge African leaders gathered
in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to finally find a definitive solution which
will ultimately lead to conflict resolution, peace and stability
in these respective countries.
As a guarantor to the
GPA in Zimbabwe, we would like to urge the African Union (AU) to
have a multi- faceted approach to the resolution of crises which
continue to rock our continent. We feel that, the AU, being the
mother body politic in Africa should continuously be seized with
the Madagascar, DRC, Sudan and Zimbabwe question while at the same
time extending its hand to the emerging and ravaging civil wars
in CAR and Mali.
We commend parties
in the inclusive government in Zimbabwe for having finally resolved
the outstanding issues in the constitution making process. As we
prepare to go for a constitutional referendum possibly in March
or April 2013, we congratulate the inclusive government for their
efforts towards instituting reforms as dictated by the GPA. The
conclusion of the Electoral
Amendment Act and the putting in place of the legal framework
for the full functioning of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission
is commendable. We feel that this is the right direction for our
However, we would like
to categorically state that as civil society we are not pleased
with the recent resurgence on civil society by the state based on
unfounded allegations and trumped up charges. We contend that the
unashamed attacks by the state on Civil Society are indicative of
a closing of democratic and electoral space and based on current
form, all and any organization involved in election related issues
would be criminalized and attacked.
As CSOs, we have documented
a well-calculated and intensified long running assault on our freedoms
and activities including those of human rights defenders (HRD's),
Human Rights Lawyers and Arts and Media practitioners, by both State
and other non state actors through slandering, intimidations, raids,
arrests, prosecutions and persecution.
We take such
harassment, which recently culminated in the arrest,
prosecution and detention of Zimbabwe
Human Rights Association (Zimrights) Director Okay Machisa,
who is also the Crisis
in Zimbabwe Coalition chairperson, as meant to scare and silence
organizations that have been advancing genuine people's development.
This development follows the earlier incarceration
of another Zimrights employee, Leo Chamahwinya, on trumped up charges
of forgery, fraud and spreading falsehoods. Similar charges and
actions have been taken against other organizations like the YIDEZ,
and the Elections
Resource Centre (ERC).
We also take
note of the recent resignation
of the newly formed Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission(ZHRC) Chairperson,
Prof Austin and we feel that this dents the current efforts towards
ensuring that Zimbabwe transits to a democracy. The government of
Zimbabwe must be urged to ensure that the commission is well capacitated
and is allowed to operate independently based on the Paris
While efforts have been
made towards the implementation of the GPA, we feel that the current
reforms are piecemeal and are not enough if Zimbabwe is to hold
a free and fair election. 2013 is a watershed year for Zimbabwe
where Zimbabweans are likely to hold two plebiscites in the form
of a constitutional referendum and election. We reiterate our position
that Zimbabwe cannot hold elections without key reforms that are
necessary in ensuring that citizens can express themselves freely
and choose a leader of their choice without undue influence.
The AU must take this
opportunity to re-emphasise to the government of Zimbabwe the need
to expedite the reform agenda before holding elections which are
likely to be held during the second half of 2013. As the 20th AU
Ordinary Summit draws to an end we are beaming with confidence that
the AU will be able to remind the Government of Zimbabwe to take
corrective measures in ensuring that the forthcoming elections will
be decisive, free and fair. 2013 is a definitive epoch which will
also determine the democraticness of Zimbabwe in future. We reiterate
that the following reforms should be implemented before the holding
of an election in Zimbabwe:
finalisation of the constitution making process according to the
provisions of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) so that Zimbabweans
can decide on the draft
constitution presented by COPAC in a referendum.
2) Elimination of State
sponsored violence and the creation of a peaceful environment.
3) Disbanding of all
violence related militia groups such as Chipangano and Al Shabab
4) Immediate cessation
of raids and harassment of civil society organisations and other
pro- democracy movements
5) Immediate release
of all political prisoners who are in prison on trumped up charges
6) Full implementation
of electoral reforms which will pave way for the holding of a free
and fair election in Zimbabwe and peaceful transfer of State power
7) A non-partisan security
sector that prioritises the security and safety of citizens and
restricts itself to the barracks
8) Transparency in the
management of natural resources so that they benefit the majority
of Zimbabweans. The control of diamonds by the military elite breeds
ground for funding conflict not only in Zimbabwe but to our neighbours.
In view of the lapse of the Kimberley Process Kinshasa compliance
work plan on Zimbabwe, we call for transparency and accountability
in the diamond industry and the realisation of maximum beneficiation
by the people of Zimbabwe.
Without the support from
our neighbouring countries and Africa as a whole, Zimbabwe alone
cannot resolve the current social, economic and political nemesis
and we call upon the AU and SADC to continuously be seized with
the Zimbabwe question and ensure full implementation of the GPA
before the next election.
We wish you all memorable
and euphoric AU Golden Jubilee.
Viva Africa, Viva Unity
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