Investigate rights abuses, EU tells ED

OUTGOING European Union (EU) ambassador to Zimbabwe, Philippe Van Damme has said although he has not personally met President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa in the past few weeks, he was hopeful that government would urgently investigate reports of worsening human rights abuses in the country.

BY RICHARD CHIDZA

Philippe Van Damme

Addressing journalists during a public discussion organised by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa)-Zimbabwe’s Harare chapter on Wednesday, Van Damme suggested that the country had become divided, with little room for rationality.

His remarks came after Mnangagwa last week told the Independent Foreign Service that the EU envoy had apologised after failing to find proof of citizens brutalised in post-election reprisals.

“In this divisive environment, elections are an extremely emotional issue and I have seen in the past few months that it is difficult to have a rational debate on some issues. What I discovered in this particular case is that we only have two extremes, truth or lies or black and white,” he said.

“I never spoke directly to the President in the past few weeks. We engage with some of my colleagues through different people in private messages,” the EU ambassador said.
Van Damme said he was not in a position to pass judgment on whether the reports of rights abuses were true or false.

“I don’t judge, but we have been calling for all reports to be investigated by the right institutions. I am not an investigator, I am not the police. I am not judging anything, but (cases of rights abuses) must be investigated by the Human Rights Commission and the police, but we will not judge these reports on whether they are true or false. They have largely been documented,” he said.

When it was put to the ambassador to categorically state if he had personally or through intermediaries apologised, Van Damme said: “We are not discussing figures or their exactness. What I know is that we have these reports.”

He said the numbers of ordinary citizens abused or brutalised will change with time.

“The numbers evolve overtime and I am not sure which figures the President was commenting on or when the interview was conducted, but that is not the issue. The issue is there are reports which have changed a number of times, but must be followed up. They have an impact on the image of the country,” Van Damme said.

He also took potshots at former President Robert Mugabe, describing the ex-Zanu PF leader as a “bitter old man” who must begin preparations for his death.


Van Damme said Mugabe must now be protected from people who wanted to manipulate him in his last days.

“Can I say the impression that he left me in 2015 on a rainy Independence Day celebration, it never changed my vision since then.

“I saw a very old frail man on the track being saluted by the army and an impression he gave me was that of a frail, old lonely man. You know with some of these old men, it’s difficult to quit and this old man seems to be a bitter old man now for the way he was forced to leave power,” Van Damme said.

“So I think that a way should be found to let him go in a dignified manner, now he has to prepare for his physical departure. I think we need to give him, encourage him to prepare for his final departure and try to protect him against those who try to manipulate him because he has given something to this country, whether we like it or not and the way things have been revolving around him in the last nine months, it’s quite painful for him.”

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11 Comments

  1. Farai Johnson Nhire

    The journalist hear were obviously trying to force certain specific words out of this diplomat but he managed to dogde the trap.

  2. Mugabe has now become the darling of the EU. How things change. Is it about Mugabe or it is now racial. The EU should also rein in its boy Chamisa who is threatening Zimbabweans because they did not vote him into office. Is the EU saying Mugabe should be left to do whatever he wants even if his deeds are in variance with the laws of the country and also causes mayhem in the country. Mugabe should behave like an elder just like what Mandela and Kaunda did for him to be respected by the government. We should not use his age to let him cause chaos. May be there are others outside ZANU (PF) who are using Mugabe to achieve their own ends and when the government retaliates, it is blamed. It is not the government or ZANU (PF) that is abusing Mugabe but those outside including Chamisa who has always been Mugabe’s blue eyed boy in the MDC.

  3. Albert Tarusarira

    I am very much disappointed by the EU diplomat’s talk about Mugabe. We are in this mess because of him. If he wants our respect, then he should go into the after life quitely. Why can’t the EU say it straight that Chamisa stop using Mugabe to further his cause. Shame on the EU.

    1. Wasn’t it your Mugabe whom you said he will die in office when we said we want change?. You even went on to say he is like Chist to you and declared 21 Feb a holiday. You named Airport after him in 2017 when he was in power and you celebrated, today you want us to erase that?. Mugabe and Zanu are one.

  4. Nhasi mugabe ashata pamai mukuza mese maisa zviona kuti arikukanganisa imika hatidi hunhu ihwohwo ndizvo zvirikutadzisa nyika kuenda mberi

    1. shunguhadziurayi mangarayi

      Anakawo kwamuri because ari kukupayi mari kuti mubvise ZANU PF mupower. Heyii mamdc hamuite. Shuwa ndimi here vanhu vaiita kunge magarwa nemashavi muchidaidzira kuti Mugabe must go mawe kuti nhasi he is good? Desperate and confused.

  5. kid marongorongo

    van damme is out going and has nothing to lose he want to soil Zimbabwe with his utterances, but honestly he was gentleman enough to say the truth that they are reports without figures therefore media should not put words in the diplomat’s mouth.

  6. When Mugabe was wrong, ZANU PF supporters stood by him through thick and thin, noone in ZANU PF had the guts to tell the old man that he was old the he should rest….. not even at their congress did they have the guts to do so….. but now that he is oustered by power hungry people who would KILL only to cling onto power, the same supporters are are cheering ED today. My word of advise to you Mr President elect is, these people who are defending you on social media are only doing so because you are the President, but once you are not, they will BOO you and call you names which even those who show that they hate you would never call you.

    They are cheering you now, but they are dying inside to see you fall. They are demn snakes… foxes in sheep skin. These are the same people who were cheering at Mugabe when he fired you, but today they call him names and are spitting on him…… the UNFAILING TRUTH is that the same will be done to you as well WITHOUT FAIL. Your greater enemies are not us who shows you that we dont like you, but they are those who PRETEND to LOVE YOU in public and then go and VOTE for CHAMISA in the ballot box.

  7. Halvat lennot ja äkkilähdöt | Vertaa lennot ja löydä lentodiilit Skycannerilla

  8. Im totally disappointed by this Newspaper which seems to sing praises about Europeans and Americans at the detriment of their own government.Right now there is hot news about Trump tweeting about land reforms in SA but you seem to ignore it because you dont want to bite the hand that feeds you.Your masters are spewing vomit over internal issues of SA which are similar to our own but you remain aloof, whose interests are you serving NewsDay? The Opposition in Zimbabwe have been exposed for prostituting with Americans without an understanding of American foreign policy towards Africa.In SA the Opposition parties are patriotic about SA issues and they are condemning Americans for interferring in the country”s internal affairs but here we have the Opposition and Media which ask for sanctions from America thier masters.Im disappointed by the Newsday.

  9. The Con-Court’s decision did not surprise anyone especially after listen to Chamisa’ s lawyers, one did not need to be a lawyer to see the MDC cases was a weak one.

    History will say that Nelson Chamisa and his MDC Alliance, as the main opposition in these elections, had participated in these elections against advice not to without first implementing the reforms, out of greed. They were after the few gravy train seats they knew Zanu PF would give away to entice the opposition to participate.

    “MDC has stringent measures to stop Zanu PF rigging the elections!” Chamisa had claimed. We now know that he was lying, it was a feeble excuse to justify why MDC was participating with no reforms.

    “The worst aspect for me about the failure to agree a coalition was that both MDCs couldn’t now do the obvious – withdraw from the (2013) elections,” David Coltart, MDC Senator and cabinet member during the GNU, admitted in his book.

    “The electoral process was so flawed, so illegal, that the only logical step was to withdraw, which would compel SADC to hold Zanu PF to account. But such was the distrust between the MDC-T and MDC-N that neither could withdraw for fear that the other would remain in the elections, winning seats and giving the process credibility.”

    By participating in this year’s elections MDC leaders had once again given these flawed and illegal elections credibility and forfeited the nation another chance to get the reforms implemented and thus end this political charade of rigged elections!

    The declaration by the Con-Court confirming President Mnangagwa as dully elected president is the final act in these flawed elections confirming the grime reality of another five years of this corrupt and tyrannical Zanu PF dictatorship! All made possible by MDC leaders’ greed!

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