OPPOSITION political parties and civic groups have called on the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and the African Union (AU) to drop brotherhood approach which is preventing them from effectively dealing with threats to peace and security in Zimbabwe.
BY SILAS NKALA/NQOBANI NDLOVU
The call comes as the Zanu PF-led government has launched a violent crackdown on protesters leading to 12 deaths, injury, rape and torture of civilians by State security forces since January 14.
Some Sadc and AU member states, particularly former liberation movements, have openly supported the Zanu PF administration, which has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, despite its flagrant violation of human rights.
Early this week, South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) threw its weight behind Zanu PF, indicating that it is keen to assist the latter in light of economic challenges and attempts to isolate the country from international community through pressure by opposition MDC and its global partners.
Last year, Sadc and AU were widely criticised for endorsing the disputed July 30 polls as free, fair and credible, despite other international missions pointing out the misuse of State resources, coercion, intimidation, partisan behaviour by traditional leaders and evident bias by the State media.
Zapu spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa yesterday said the Sadc and AU should stand with brutalised civilians.
“Zanu PF government is behaving like spoilt brats who expect a tap on the back for murdering unarmed civilians, just like they did during Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina and successive election violence unleashed on poor citizens,” Maphosa said.
“Zapu calls on the Sadc and AU to drop the brotherhood approach on the criminals in Harare and act to rescue a desperate nation on the edge of civil unrest. The international community through the United Nations has an obligation to rescue Zimbabwe from the marauding criminals.”
Habakkuk Trust director Dumisani Nkomo said Sadc and AU condone dictators.
“Sadc and AU must strengthen the application of continental covenants on democracy and ensure adherence and appropriate punitive measures for members that fail to adhere,” he said.
Mthwakazi Republic Party president Mqondisi Moyo said Sadc and AU have let Africans down.
“The countries of Africa are afraid to criticise each other even in the face of gross human rights abuses because of lack of shared common agenda and the fact that most of them are tainted with corruption and improper governance. These bodies are only concerned with political stability which affects them directly, rather than human rights issues which affect the general citizenry of Zimbabwe,” Moyo said.
“It is unfortunate that this impractical patriotism is slowly eroding on the relevance of Sadc and AU in dealing with the ills of Zimbabwe and other African issues. They have become an old men’s social club and they are useless.”
MDC-T spokesperson Linda Masarira said her party appreciates the need for both Sadc and AU to play an objective and effective peer review role among member states.
But Church and Civic Society Joint Forum chairman Anglistone Sibanda said the Sadc and AU were formed to promote brotherhood.
“The challenge with the current situation is that the organisers of the protests failed to be smart in their risk analysis. They were sacrificing ordinary, angry and frustrated masses hoping to achieve some normative leverage and international sympathy from Sadc and AU forgetting that those institutions have always been about brotherhood. By getting violent, looting, burning cars, killing police officers, they lost the plot and fell into a trap. The government got something to justify its actions before these brotherhood institutions,” Sibanda said.
Meanwhile, Children of War Veterans Association (Cozwa) last Friday met South African opposition leader Mmusi Maimane of the Democratic Alliance in their bid to rally opposition parties and human rights groups in the region against Zanu PF.
Maimane has threatened to drag President Emmerson Mnangagwa to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for trial over human rights abuses.
Cozwa leader Munyaradzi Shoko, said they engaged Maimane who is chairperson of the United African Partnership for Democratic Change (UAPDC ), a coalition of 32 African opposition parties.
“As Cozwa, we are on a regional visit to engage all regional political parties and civic society. We are giving them feedback on the situation in our country,” Shoko said.
“The government of Zimbabwe has been committing crimes against humanity, raping, abductions, torture, State capture and killing people. We have collected evidence that we will present to the United Nations, AU, Sadc and the ICC.”
In a related matter, Bulawayo rights groups under the banner Bulawayo Campaign Against State and Police Brutality have launched an online petition to the Bulawayo Provincial Affairs minister Judith Ncube calling for a stop to “State and police” brutality in the city.
“We ask for the following: the immediate stop to State and police brutality of citizens, limited use of force of protesters because the police and army should have the skills and cultural competence to protect and serve our communities without use of harmful force,” read the online petition.
Ncube could not be reached for comment.