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Joint statement on escalating violence, increasing instability and targeted victimization of civil society leaders, the media and ordinary citizens
Zimbabwean Civil Society Organisations
February 12, 2011

We as Civil Society Groups appended below, strongly condemn the resurgence of politically motivated violence accompanying ZANU PF's preparations for impending elections. The violence, which is typical of ZANU PF campaign strategies of the past, has manifested itself in the beatings; harassment and displacement of over 140 Mbare and Epworth residents; the detention of CSO leaders and raiding of their offices; the abductions of Civil Society activists; burning of newspapers; the looting of foreign African owned shops and the invasion of private property.

Rural communities have not been spared either. In events reminiscent of the bloody June 2008 "Presidential Election Run-off", former liberation war combatants have been deployed in some communities where they are reportedly harassing and intimidating villagers to coerce them into voting for ZANU PF under the guise of mobilizing support for the party's sponsored anti-sanctions petition.

As Civil Society, we also lament the inaction of the police in maintaining law and order in the incidents mentioned above, leaving citizens to be brutalized and businesses looted. The demonstrations against foreign business, have clearly taken a xenophobic tone, which should not be tolerated by any right thinking nation, especially one whose citizens have also been victims of similar attacks in other countries in the recent past.

The stated police inaction vindicates Civil Society's long held position against partisan policing in the country and the need for security sector reforms that contribute towards guaranteeing the security of Zimbabwean citizens.

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

We demand that the Zimbabwean Government should:

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. Take note of these worrying developments in Zimbabwe and weigh them against claims that the country is ready to conduct Free and Fair Polls in 2011,

2. Urge the parties in the inclusive government to stop the 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 closer and permanent monitoring presence in Zimbabwe, as talk of elections continues to gain momentum amongst political actors.

5. Declare that given the situation on the ground, free and fair elections are not within the realm of possibility, and that any further talk of elections should be based on a Road Map to Elections that will lay out clear benchmarks for the holding of democratic elections. These should include, among others, dealing with violence and intimidation of citizens and the removal of impediments to democratic expression such as repressive laws and unprofessional and partisan conduct by the justice and security sector parties.

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.
Given the circumstances, we urge Zimbabweans to:

1. Exercise restraint and desist from being used as instruments of violence or being provoked by the above actions as they are clearly meant to justify further crack down on Civil Society, the media and perceived ZANU PF opponents by the state's arms of cohesion.

2. Stay firm in their struggle and pursuit of a democratic dispensation that will restore their human dignity, economic justice and guarantee their 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. Center 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 Human Rights
31. Zimbabwe Young Women's Network for Peace-building
32. Doors of Hope Foundation
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

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