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SADC Mauritius protocol: Assessment of compliance with the protocol - Issue No. 8
Sokwanele
November 08, 2004

"Mauritius Watch" provides a regular, objective and non-partisan assessment of Zimbabwe’s compliance with the Protocol. In the run-up to the 2005 Parliamentary Elections we note any significant failures to adhere to the SADC standards.

In honour of International Human Rights Day – 10 December 2004

"… Some Africans still view the concern for human rights as a rich man’s luxury for which Africa is not ready, or even as a conspiracy imposed by the industrialised West. I find these thoughts demeaning – demeaning of the yearning for human dignity that resides in every African heart. Do not mothers weep when their sons and daughters are killed or tortured by agents of oppressive rule? Do not African fathers suffer when their children are unjustly sent to jail? Is not Africa as a whole the poorer when just one of its voices is silenced? Human rights …. are African rights. They are Asian rights; they are European rights; they are American rights. They belong to no government; they are limited to no continent, for they are fundamental to humankind itself."

(Statement by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the opening of the fifty-fourth session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva on 16 March 1998).

Date

Incidents/Developments

SADC standards breached

08.12.04

CALL FOR UN HUMAN RIGHTS PROBE IN ZIMBABWE

African human rights and civic society groups have urged the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights to pressure Harare to accept a rapporteur from the Commission, and from United Nations secretary-general, Kofi Annan, to probe the abuse of human rights defenders in Zimbabwe.

In a submission at the Commission’s 36th session, which ended in Dakar last week, the groups also asked the continental human rights watchdog to mobilize African pressure on the Mugabe regime to restore judicial independence in Zimbabwe.

They said the Commission should call for an enquiry into the harassment and intimidation of lawyers and other human rights defenders by ZANU PF supporters.

(For further details refer to Zim Online – www.zimonline.co.za)

2.1.7 Independence of the Judiciary and impartiality of electoral institutions

4.1.1 Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of the citizens

4.1.2 Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections

01.12.04

ZANU PF HIT LIST FOR TOP NGOs

Events have proved that the ruling party indeed has a hit list of the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) it most wants to close down under the NGO Bill. Top of that list are the country’s two biggest NGOs, which the ruling party alleges are working to unseat it from power.

Ministry of Justice permanent secretary, David Mangota, representing the Zimbabwean government at the 36th session of the Africa Commission on Human Rights, confirmed that the Mugabe regime intends to shut down the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and Crisis Coalition of Zimbabwe (CCZ).

Mangota told the commission that Harare was prepared to work with civic society but said that action against the two NGOs was justified because they were "conduits of foreign policies, through which interference in governance is achieved."

The NCA campaigns for a new and democratic constitution for Zimbabwe. Supporters of the group have often clashed with the police while demonstrating peacefully against the regime’s autocratic rule.

The CCZ is pushing for a negotiated and democratic settlement in Zimbabwe’s deepening economic and political crisis.

Under the Bill, NGOs are barred from carrying out voter education and those working on human rights and governance-related issues are barred from receiving foreign funding.

In a late-night sitting on 9 December, Parliament gave the NGO Bill a third reading. It now requires only the presidential signature and gazetting before acquiring the force of law.

(See the story on Zim Online –www.zimonline.co.za )

2.1.1. Full participation of citizens in the political process

2.1.8 Voter education

4.1.1 Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of the citizens

7.4. (Government to) safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens including the freedom of movement, assembly, association, expression and campaigning … during the electoral process …

7.5 (Government to) take all necessary measures and precautions to prevent the perpetration of fraud, rigging or any other illegal practices throughout the whole electoral process .

.

05.12.04

ZIMBABWE LIBERATORS’ PLATFORM SLAMS BILL

The Zimbabwe Liberators’ Platform (ZLP), a non-partisan lobbying group for genuine war veterans, ex-detainees and war collaborators, has slammed the Mugabe regime for their authoritarian rule and refusal to either listen to dissenting voices or to compromise on their own agenda. The group issued a press statement entitled "NGO Bill: The Great Betrayal" in which they sharply condemned the regime’s intransigence over this draconian piece of legislation.

ZLP points out that they had called for dialogue leading to a compromise, but the regime "negotiated in bad faith". "Its mind," they said, "had already been made up."

In the statement, ZLP draws a comparison between the Smith regime’s unwillingness to listen to the black majority and the attitude of the present regime in Zimbabwe.

It mentions the NGO Bill in the context of such repressive legislation dating from the Colonial era as the Unlawful Organizations Act and the infamous Law and Order (Maintenance) Act.

The statement ends: "For the gallant liberation war fighters (the fallen heroes and heroines, the maimed and the living), this is a great betrayal of the noble ideals which they laid down their lives for. What has really gone wrong ?"

(The full text of the statement may be seen in the Zimbabwe Independent - www.theindependent.co.zw)

2.1.1 Full participation of citizens in the political process

2.1.3 Political tolerance

4.1.1. Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of the citizens

4.1.2 Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections

05.12.04

MDC ACTIVISTS INJURED IN BRUTAL ATTACK

At least four activists from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were injured in a brutal attack by a group of ZANU PF supporters in Mutare West during the last week of November. The four were accused of being "saboteurs".

The MDC spokesman for Manicaland, Pishayi Muchauraya, said that ZANU PF had started a "purging exercise" in Mutare West, beating MDC supporters to force them into submission ahead of the parliamentary elections due in March 2005.

Muchauraya, who named the four injured supporters, said that arrangements were in hand for them to receive specialist medical attention in view of the danger of internal injuries. The mother of one of the victims said, "My son was tied to a tree and assaulted using bicycle chains. He has bruises all over his body … we have reported the matter to the police but nothing has happened."

The MDC aspiring member of parliament for the constituency, Gabriel Chiwara, reported that he had been forced to resort to different and innovative campaign strategies in order to avoid both the police and ZANU PF thugs.

(See the report in The Standard – http://www.thestandard.co.zw/)

2.1.2 Freedom of association

2.1.3 Political tolerance

4.1. 2 Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections

7.4 (Government to) safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens including the freedom of movement, assembly, association, expression and campaigning …

07.12.04

PROTEST AT FRESH BID TO GAG MEDIA

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has written to Robert Mugabe expressing its outrage at fresh moves by his regime to impose new and even more severe restrictions on the media.

In a letter dated 2 December, Ann Cooper, CPJ’s executive director, criticized Harare for tightening media laws at a time when other African countries were moving to relax controls.

"CPJ is outraged at your government’s continued clampdown on the independent media in Zimbabwe, including proposed new legislation that could be used to jail journalists for up to 20 years," Cooper wrote.

Under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Bill, journalists can be jailed for up to 20 years for publishing "false" information that could endanger public safety, damage the defence and economic interests of Zimbabwe, promote public disorder or undermine public confidence in state security forces.

Under existing law, Zimbabwean journalists already face a two-year jail term and can be banned from practicing for life for publishing "false" information. Even for publishing the verifiable truth they often suffer severe legal harassment, including unlawful arrest, imprisonment and torture.

At present the ruling party has exclusive control of the state media, while the opposition Movement for Democratic Change is denied access to state radio, television and newspapers.

(See the story on Zim Online – www.zimonline.co.za)

2.1.5 Equal opportunity for all political parties to access the state media

4.1.1 Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of citizens

4.1.2 Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections

7.4 (Government to) safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens including the freedom of … expression … as well as access to the media on the part of all stakeholders …

05.12.04

WARNING OF FOOD MANIPULATION AHEAD OF POLL

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says the ruling party, ZANU PF, is seeking to establish a complete monopoly on food aid distribution in the run-up to the parliamentary elections of March 2005.

The MDC’s shadow minister for Lands and Agriculture, Renson Gasela, says that the government is secretly importing maize in order to facilitate its agenda.

"Inflating crop yields does not only provide a useful pretext for terminating food relief efforts by international NGOs," he said, "but it also creates a convenient smokescreen behind which government can covertly import food to coerce a hungry electorate in the run-up to the elections."

A recent investigation by the Parliamentary Committee on Lands and Agriculture found that instead of the predicted 1,2 million tonnes of maize being delivered to the Grain Marketing Board, only 351 810 tonnes had been delivered by October – equivalent to little more than two months’ supply for the whole country.

"Despite the compelling evidence on the ground, the government continues to tell the people of Zimbabwe and the outside world that we have enough food and do not need outside assistance. The government is playing with our lives; we are fast running out of food," said Gasela.

At the same time, Bulawayo City Council minutes reveal that another 10 people died as a result of malnutrition in November. The 10 comprised nine children under the age of four and a 70 year-old man. This brings to 180 the malnutrition death toll recorded in the city over the past year. The Executive Mayor of Bulawayo and the city’s Director of Health have in the past been subjected to threats and abuse from leading ZANU PF politicians for daring to publish the facts.

(For further details refer to the report in The Standard – http://www.thestandard.co.zw/)

4.1. 2 Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections

7.5 (Government to) take all necessary measures and precautions to prevent the perpetration of fraud, rigging or any other illegal practices throughout the whole electoral process …

On the basis of these and numerous other daily breaches of the SADC Protocol on Democratic Elections, it can be seen that the Mugabe regime has yet to show any serious intent to change its ways or to begin to prepare for anything resembling fair and free elections. In fact a new raft of oppressive legislation rushed through Parliament will result in a situation even worse than that which prevailed during the Parliamentary Elections of 2000 and Presidential Election of 2002, both of which were heavily criticized by observer missions from the international community.

And the March 2005 Parliamentary Elections are now a matter of weeks away …..

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