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  • Joint 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 constitutional 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 country.

    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 Principles.

    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:

    1) Expeditious 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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