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Zimbabwe Briefing Issue 51
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (SA Regional Office)
November 09, 2011

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SADC Must Urgently Deploy Peacekeepers to Zim

Violence by ZANU-PF militia groups against the MDC and its perceived supporters is on the rise across the country in the clearest indication yet that the inclusive government has failed to restore the rule of law, including the dismantling of the infrastructure of violence. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) must now swiftly deploy a team of peacekeepers to Zimbabwe to prevent violence and intimidation.

A deployment of SADC peacekeepers for Zimbabwe is urgent and necessary because the political leadership of the police remains extremely politicized and partisan towards ZANU-PF and unwilling to hold accountable the perpetrators of violence and other abuses. If Zimbabwe had an independent and professional police force the problem of political violence would not exist because the police has the necessary means to enforce law and order. It is the political will that is lacking. SADC can no longer continue to preach peace in Zimbabwe without taking active, positive steps to affirmatively enforce that peace.

Largely due to president Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party's unwillingness to institute fundamental reforms, Zimbabwe has failed to ensure that the next elections will be free and fair, to provide justice for victims of abuses or to create a viable roadmap that will pave the way towards a genuine transition to a free, democratic and open society. The shaky inclusive government is faced with imminent collapse. Within the framework of mediation over the Zimbabwe Peace Process, SADC must, beyond the deployment of Organ Troika on Defence, Politics and Security Cooperation monitors, insist on an urgent deployment of peacekeepers to keep the spotlight on the country and prevent state sponsored violence.

Last Sunday violence from the ZANU-PF militia group - Chipangano - forced the MDC-T to abandon its rally scheduled for Chibuku stadium in Chitungwiza. The violence left scores of MDC supporters nursing injuries. The police who had cleared the rally did not provide security, nor did they take any steps to arrest those responsible for the violence. This senseless violence must stop. SADC cannot continue to engage in endless talks that yield no practical results that translate into human security for ordinary Zimbabweans who have suffered for so long under the yoke of oppression.

Granted, it was partly due to SADC efforts, and due to resistance from within, that ZANU-PF was unable to force elections in 2011. Zimbabwe remains unprepared to hold genuinely free and fair elections where violence and intimidation play no part. And yet president Mugabe and ZANU-PF are now ratcheting up the rhetoric again and talking about holding elections in early 2012. Zimbabweans have lost all faith in the ability of the police to enforce peace and arrest perpetrators of serious human rights abuses. SADC must now step up to the plate and be counted.

A deployment of SADC peacekeepers across the country would immediately send a bold message to ZANU-PF's infrastructure of violence that the region is not going to fold its hands and watch this senseless and endless violence. The physical presence of SADC peacekeepers would be a key confidence building measure and would enable the people of Zimbabwe to vote freely with the knowledge that a measure of protection will come, not from a partisan police force, but from SADC peacekeepers. This may be the only way to secure peace and the security of the voter and the vote.

SADC, like any other African institution, may be struggling for funds, but I am sure the international community will be more than willing to put resources together to fund a mechanism to guarantee peace. The African Union and the United Nations may then be approached as well to contribute human and financial resources to the SADC peacekeeping force for Zimbabwe. Otherwise of what use is SADC to the people of Zimbabwe if not to provide such practical means to enforce peace?

It is no longer possible that change will come to Zimbabwe through sterile summits and endless talk-shops. Now is the time for positive action in support of all peace-loving Zimbabweans.

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