‘EU won’t ignore Zim rights abuses’

EU ambassador to Zimbabwe Timo Olkkonen

BY OBEY MANAYITI

THE European Union (EU) on Monday said it would not ignore human rights violations in Zimbabwe and warned government that further violations were destroying goodwill and a setback to the country’s recovery efforts.

Speaking at a Misa-Zimbabwe-organised Quill Club discussion in Harare, EU ambassador to Zimbabwe Timo Olkkonen said human rights issues needed to be prioritised because they have a bearing on the country’s record.

“The violations of the past have been difficult for our relationship, the human rights violations,” Olkkonen said.

“Again the events in August were a setback because during the elections there were a number of flaws and I am not saying they were perfect, but had gone quite easily and the violence was a setback.

“Then again the events in January were quite a bit of a shock and the fact that we need to continue discussing and addressing these issues, I will not say, for example, addressing and condemning these issues will be putting the bar very high for Zimbabwe. I think the events will need to be addressed.”

Zimbabwe had an opportunity to reform after the removal of former leader Robert Mugabe in November 2017, but just like the old administration, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime has been dogged by gross human rights violations. The notable violations were the August 1, 2018 post-election shootings, which claimed the lives of six people while in January this year, at least 18 people were shot dead by soldiers in a violent crackdown on protests against fuel price hikes.

The EU ambassador said concern has been raised that human rights violations were also happening in Europe, particularly France where there are yellow vest demonstrations.

But the top EU diplomat emphasised that the issue must not be used to hush discussions on the rights violations in Zimbabwe.

He said if African ambassadors in Europe were concerned about the alleged violations in that region, they were free to take up the issue.

Olkkonen said the principle of dialogue between Zimbabwe and the EU must continue in earnest, but emphasised the bloc will not turn a blind eye on significant issues, including gross human rights violations, which can potentially damage the country’s reputation.

The EU ambassador also said he was optimistic that the media space will open up. He also talked about the proposed repeal of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act as the war on democratisation of media intensifies and bringing in another set of Bills which he said must be in sync with the Constitution.

Olkkonen, however, noted that the EU will not dictate what Zimbabweans must do in the national dialogue, but applauded what other institutions such as churches were doing to bring the warring political players together.

He said dialogue was important for Zimbabwe which is deeply divided along political lines.

Zimbabwe was a divided nation that needed to find each other and the establishment of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission is a step in the right direction to resolve some pertinent issues in the country, he underscored, adding that the Europeans supported the dialogue, but will not prescribe how the negotiations should proceed.

“We are very supportive, but again not prescribing. The EU’s role in this dialogue is more of a well-wisher. It’s not like we will be there telling each party what to do and what to say, no, because it has to be sustainable for it to be successful. Obviously, it has to be a Zimbabwean process,” Olkkonen said.

8 Comments

  1. Farai Johnson Nhire

    Why not just say the truth as it is? Most western nations including America sponsor and support opposition political parties in countries ruled by liberation movements. In the specific instance of Zimbabwe, Mdc was formed by Britain’s Westminister Foundation and there is no way Britain and its western allies can be in agreement with a liberation movement government which removed their colonial adminstration by force no mater how good The Zanu Pf government may conduct itself. The so called human rigqts abuses took place after provocations financialy sponsored by non governmental organisations of european and american origin. So this story of if only the zanu pf government had done this and whatever else is pure hypocricy. You surely support Mdc and if you had your way, you would surely vote for it.

  2. Farai Johnson Nhire! What can you say since you are benefiting from the status quo. So if people in any country under the earth and decide to differ in political opinion they are sponsored by the West. It would be interesting to engage you in a live conversation about this. I pity such people like you seriously need reorientation of the mind

  3. EU should do whatever they want. People demonstrated and government reacted. This country needs unity, we are all responsible for our downfall. We all need to have a common purpose. Nation is heavily divided along party lines.

  4. HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS BY THE PROTESTORS ARE NEVER MENTIONED BY THESE EU PPLE. IT IS APPARENT THAT THEY EXONERATE THE ACTIVITIES OF DEMONSTRATIONS NO MATTER HOW HARMFUL THEY ARE… IF THEY ARE REALLY SINCERE ABOUT OUR HUMAN RIGHTS, THEY MUST CONDEMN FORTHWITH ALSO THE VIOLENT ACTIONS OF THE DEMONSTRATIONS HELD…THEY IGNORE AND NEVER SAY THAT THE DEMONSTRATORS KILLED POLICE OFFICERS, KILLED CIVILIANS DESTROYED PROPERTY WORTH MILLIONS, THEY WERE NOT STOPPING AND THREATENED TO BURN SERVICE STATIONS .DID THEY EXPECT GVT TO JUST SPECTATE AND FOLD HANDS JUST CZ EU CONDEMNS ANY RESPONSE AGAINST ANY DEMO?,,…I SENCE HYPOCRICY IN THIS .

  5. FAITHFU''LLY''

    IF EU IS SINCERE THEY SHLD CONDEMN RIGHTS ABUSES BY ALL ACTORS NOT TAKE SIDES..ie actions by the protestors and actions by the gvt.

    WHY DO THE EU TEND TO EXONERATE THE VIOLENT NATURE OF DEMONSTRATORS. IT ALWAYS TALK ABOUT ACTIONS DONE BY THE GVT AGAINST VIOLENT,DESTRUCTIVE PROTESTORS AND THE IGNORE THE FACT THAT GVT HAS RESPONSIBILITY TO MAINTAIN LAW AND ORDER AND TO PROTECT ITS CITIZENS FROM VIOLENCE, RIGHTS INFRINGEMENT AND CRIMINALS. THE DEMOS WERE VERY VIOLENT AND ONLY VIOLENT RESPONSES ON THE PERPETRATORS CLD DEFEND THE CITIZENS….

  6. The beautiful ones are not yet born

    I think his comments are quite sensible and the political players in the country need to take heed. I especially agree with the fact that this should be a Zimbabwean Process for it to remain sustainable. Dialogue must look beyond elections and politics and should be so far-reaching as to ensure that the voice of the nation is head and not that of Zanu Pf and MDC Alliance.

    Everyone is tired of all the stupid grandstanding by the President and Chamisa. It is unacceptable. If they really cared about the people they would have acted a long time ago. Shockingly they pretend to be Christians! What kind of Christians are they? Even occultists know how to sit and talk, what’s wrong with you? Heartless bafoons!

  7. There is no country in the world and including the EU that would not respond with live fire when a police station was being burned and a police officer murdered.
    There is a need for the EU tom revisit the situation and also answer the question of who was funding the violence and if it was foreign funding is this not terrorism.

  8. Zimbabweans should learn to be honest and fair about the situations and processes that take place in our country. Some peoples’ opinions are so clouded by politics to the extent they have abandoned all reason just to support an ideology. Politicians and their parties are not the ‘alpha and omega’ of all our problems. You could find we could be much better without them! They wont even solve our problems, them being engrossed in their own agendas. BE RATIONAL AND PRUDENT IN APPROACH TO ISSUES. Let us also learn to accept blame where necessary and NOT always BLAME others for our sins.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *