Foreign Missions Call Out Zimbabwe over Rights Abuses

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has been condemned for widespread human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The latest condemnation was made by 7 heads of mission in Zimbabwe which are Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America on Friday.

The Zimbabwean government has of late received condemnation for the current social, economic, political and health crisis that the country and its people are facing. The concerns raised so far by various global organisations, regional organisations and Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops call out the government against the crack down against those with dissenting voices over the situation in Zimbabwe.

In their statement on Friday, the heads of the foreign mission in Zimbabwe said they stand by the people of Zimbabwe on their desire for a prosperous democracy, calling on Mnangagwa to walk talk and deliver on the promise to serve the country and all its people, made two years ago when he assumed the Presidency.

The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference had earlier said the country had a multi-layered crisis, including economic collapse, deepening poverty, corruption and human rights abuses- with fear running down the spine of many of Zimbabweans people today.

“The crackdown on dissent is unprecedented,” the bishops said the previous week, in a statement that attracted fiery response and blame from Mnangagwa.

Several political activists and a journalist have also been arrested on charges of inciting and calling public protests against alleged government corruption emanating from exposes of COVID-19 looting.

Also, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, and as SADC Chair presented another opportunity a fortnight ago by sending special envoys to Zimbabwe to help in addressing the situation in that country. His efforts were however thwarted by Harare, as the envoys were denied access meet other stakeholders that included the opposition parties.

The latest statement said, “The Heads of Missions stand by the people of Zimbabwe in their desire for a peaceful and prosperous democracy. It is because we care about the people of Zimbabwe that our governments provide extensive humanitarian assistance to those affected by drought, natural disasters, and disease – including, in this difficult year, the new global pandemic of COVID-19,” the statement by the Heads of Missions read.

The seven foreign missions also called government not to use COVID-19 as an excuse to restrict citizens’ fundamental freedoms.

“Freedom of the press, of opinion, of expression, and of assembly are all universally recognised human rights and are guaranteed by the Zimbabwean Constitution. The government also has a responsibility to investigate and prosecute those responsible for violating human rights,” the statement said.

They also called on the Zimbabwean government to tackle corruption and the illicit extraction of Zimbabwe’s wealth for personal gain, which continue to undermine Zimbabwe’s development and the well-being of its people.

“If Zimbabwe is to reach its potential, its wealth and resources must be used to serve all Zimbabweans.”

The heads of mission also noted with concern that the necessary discussions to build a better future for Zimbabwe have so far been hindered by unhelpful rhetoric and blame assigned to several groups, including diplomatic missions and non-state actors.

“We ask the government to move away from such language and instead to deliver on its long-promised reforms and reach across the divides. Implemented to the benefit of all, they will make a difference to the life of all Zimbabweans. We hope this government is able to deliver on its initial vision and live up to the commitments it made when it came to power. As before, we stand ready to provide support in response to meaningful progress on reforms,”

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