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Strikes and Protests 2007- Save Zimbabwe Campaign
fight while SADC watches in silence: A call to action
Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA)
March 15, 2007
View Save Zimbabwe
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We represent the
many people within SADC who believe in lasting and democratic solutions
to the crisis in Zimbabwe. We issue this open letter to all citizens
of this region, and in particular to our heads of state and government,
members of parliament in the respective countries and senior leaders
within the SADC and African Union Secretariats to take urgent action
to end the crisis in Zimbabwe.
We learned with
shock and dismay of the Zimbabwe statešs attack on its citizens
on Sunday 11 March 2007 which resulted in the death of Gift Tandare.
We are horrified to learn of the arrest and detention of dozens
of civil society, church and opposition parties leaders at a peaceful
prayer meeting that took place the same day. Their subsequent detention
without access to legal counsel and appropriate medical attention
is cause for great concern.
We are outraged
that not a single state within SADC and the AU has issued a statement
decrying the situation and calling for the restoration of, and respect
for, human rights in Zimbabwe.
For almost a decade
the people of Zimbabwe have suffered under the unjust regime of
Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party. Freedom of expression and assembly
have been severely curtailed, virtually all independent media outlets
have been shut down, and thousands of people have been dispossessed
by an increasingly desperate party and its ruler.
For many years
Zimbabwean activists have mounted protest actions and demonstrations,
and have made it clear to the world that they aspire to live under
a democratic dispensation. Using non-violent means, the people of
Zimbabwe have used all legitimate structures at their disposal:
the courts, their parliament and the media, with little or no effect.
Today, in solidarity
with the people of Zimbabwe, we, the people of this region, must
say that enough is enough. Our governments cannot continue to ignore
this situation. Millions of Zimbabweans are displaced and are no
longer able to live in their once prosperous nation. Millions more
within Zimbabwe are hungry, sick and unable to access basic services.
If action is not
taken now at the highest levels, there will be blood on the hands
of all those states whose silence has aided and abetted Mugabešs
regime. The time for a softly-softly approach if there ever was
one is over.
Those who defend
Mugabe imply that his opponents seek to overthrow the Mugabe regime.
This is simply untrue. We firmly believe that the future of Zimbabwe
lies in the hands of Zimbabweans themselves. The future of Zimbabwe
lies in national constitutional talks, in free and fair elections
and in a return to the respect of human rights principles. The role
of the regional and continental community is to facilitate this
We therefore demand
regional and continental intervention to ensure:
- Freedom of
assembly, expression, opinion and association are respected;
The media are allowed to operate freely;
the looming humanitarian crisis that prevents Zimbabweans from
accessing basic social services including food security, health
care, water and sanitation, be averted.
We therefore urgently
call upon all heads of state and government in SADC to ensure the
- An independent
investigation into the death of Gift Tandare on 11 March 2007
following the police shooting in Highfield;
- The release
of all political detainees in custody since the prayer meeting
on 11 March 2007;
- Provision of
quality medical attention to all those in custody;
- Access to
legal counsel by all those in custody;
- Speedy resolution
of this situation by the courts and compliance with court orders
by the police.
we insist that African governments use bilateral and multilateral
means such as the SADC, African Union and the United Nations to
urgently appoint and dispatch a high-level team of eminent persons
- Assess the
situation on the ground in order to prevent more shootings and
harm to the general public,
- Develop a
sustainable and inclusive diplomatic solution to the crisis;
- The holding
of all-party inclusive talks.
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