Set time limits, HRW urges SADC
by Mxolisi Ncube
JOHANNESBURG – An international human rights watchdog has urged SADC summit to set clear time-frames to the implementation of outstanding issues in Zimbabwe’s Global Political Agreement (GPA). (Pictured: Tiseke Kasambala: Repeal POSA and AIPPA.) With President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) party being blamed for continuously dogging the national unity government, and fomenting widespread political violence, Human Rights Watch says the regional body should also prescribe remedial measures for Mugabe’s perpetual disregard for the GPA.
“Zanu (PF) is still running the show and there have been no marked improvements, especially on the human rights situation in Zimbabwe,” said HRW Senior Researcher, Tiseke Kasambala in an interview with The Zimbabwean this week. “The government of national unity has been in place for more than two years now, but there have been no improvements on the ground and no conditions have been put in place for free and fair elections.“There have also been no amendments or repeal of repressive legislation that has been used to violate freedom of expression and the operating environment remains unsafe for the media. All these issues need to be addressed by the SADC.”
Despite Mugabe’s denial, HRW research has shown that continuing major abuses in Zimbabwe have been committed by the highly partisan Zimbabwean police, militia and other gangs linked to Zanu (PF) against the party’s political opponents, especially the mainstream MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
“We have documented wanton violence and abuse of Zimbabweans by Zanu (PF) against its opponents and the SADC must clearly say that this must stop,” added Kasambala.
“Also, proper time-frames must be put in place for when the remaining issues of the GPA must be implemented. SADC must stipulate that ‘by such and such a date, one, two and three must have been done’ and force Zanu (PF) to implement what they signed to.
“A clear election roadmap must also be put in place and adhered to because Zanu (PF) cannot claim that the GPA is roadmap enough as they are saying now, yet they do not even want to commit to the same GPA.
“We need a free environment in the run-up to elections, where every party should campaign freely and there is no violence, abductions, unwarranted arrests and abuses. There should be no discrimination in terms of food aid based on political affiliation and belonging.”Kasambala said that Mugabe’s party was showing every sign that it was not pleased with the suggested SADC roadmap, which is time-bound, but added that the regional bloc should maintain its newly adopted stance on Zimbabwe, if the country’s political crisis is to be effectively addressed.
She also called for the regional leaders, who are expected to meet in Pretoria on June 11-12, to call for immediate amendments or outright repeal of such repressive laws like the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Criminal Law Codification Act, which Mugabe has used to ride roughshod on human rights in Zimbabwe.