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Regional observers detained and deported
July 30, 2013
Three of the
Regional Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum Observer team were, detained
for 6 hours, denied access to Zimbabwe last night, and were deported
back to South Africa on the next flight out of the country.
On 29th July
2013 the Regional Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum, through the offices
of the ACTION Support Centre, sought to support a regional group
of election observers access
to the upcoming electoral context in Zimbabwe. Delegates were
drawn from Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, Lesotho,
Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland, representing a
cross section of civil society activists who sought to observe the
elections and establish a strong culture of people-to-people solidarity.
was that these observers would be deployed to those areas that have
been under scrutiny in terms of contentious pre-election tactics
employed by local officials with a history of using violence and
intimidation in the areas concerned. The refusal to admit them suggests
that there are still no go areas in the country that ruling government
officials would prefer to keep out of the eyes of the public media.
Three of the
observer team, despite having successfully obtained the necessary
accreditation credentials from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
were denied entry into Zimbabwe. The immigration officials claimed
that a specific letter from the Zimbabwe Ministry of Foreign Affairs
giving permission to the observers was required, despite this information
never having been clearly explained to the proposed observers, and
the fact that the rest of the team obtained entry without any such
formalities being requested.
Solidarity Forum is gravely concerned that even those observers
from within the region, who have no agenda other than to provide
support to their civil society counterparts, and to produce an impartial
account of the election process and the announcement of the results,
have been denied access.
If the Zimbabwean
Government has nothing to hide, and is confident that these elections
are going to provide Zimbabweans with an opportunity to freely express
their political will then there should be no concerns regarding
the intention of civil society to monitor these election processes.
The ZSF acknowledges
that while ultimately the solutions to the complex challenges in
Zimbabwe must be owned and driven by the people of Zimbabwe the
current power imbalances and the abuse of power by a minority militarised
elite that has captured the state with the intention of maintaining
an undemocratic position of power requires innovative forms of people-to-people
the derogatory statements made by the Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe against the principal mediator, Ambassador Lindiwe Zulu,
and the rest of the SADC appointed mediation team, and the inflammatory
and anti-democratic statements made by members of the Zimbabwean
military forces, there are deep concerns over the climate leading
into these elections.
the current Zimbabwean context undermines SADC regional and African
Union continental structures and threatens the peace and security
of the entire Southern Africa the Regional Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum:
commits itself to a three-pillared programme of action:
1. We call on
SADC and the African Union, as the Guarantor of the Global
Political Agreement to vigorously assert and uphold the principles
enshrined in the SADC Guidelines on Governing Democratic Elections
and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance knowing
that there is full support from progressive civil society formations
in this process for a postponement of the proposed election date
until the necessary reforms that will level the electoral playing
field have been put in place.
2. We will be embarking on a programme of mass action that will
seek the maximum participation of the citizens across the SADC Region
who seek to express their solidarity with and support for the demands
and concerns contained within the communiqués released by
Zimbabwean civics and outlined in the Feya Feya Campaign document
calling for a peaceful free and fair election.
3. We will be preparing the ground for solidarity networks, and
systems and structures that will be able to respond rapidly to an
increase in the levels of violence and displacement that are envisaged
if an election goes ahead under the current conditions. Under such
circumstances the need for practical forms of people-to-people solidarity
will be paramount.
Finally we reassert
the importance of recognising that the concerns around the current
climate in Zimbabwe and the flouting of democratic principles and
values is not a concern for Zimbabweans alone. Current events in
Zimbabwe are a concern for all progressive forces across the region
and throughout the continent of Africa.
We call on all
civil society and governments in Southern Africa and beyond to join
us in demonstrating a strong show of solidarity by engaging with
the planned programme of mass action and amplifying a unified voice
that demands that the Zimbabwean electorate be given the opportunity
to freely express their democratic will in selecting their leadership
without intimidation and in an open, transparent and democratic
by the ACTION Support Centre – secretariat of the Regional
Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum
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