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UN envoy report biased: Chamisa

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BY MOSES MATENGA/BLESSED MHLANGA
THE Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance has rubbished United Nations special rapporteur Alena Douhan’s report on the outcome of her findings on the impact of Western sanctions on Zimbabwe, describing it as pre-determined as it did not capture the opposition’s views.

MDC Alliance vice-president Tendai Biti claimed in a tweet on Wednesday evening that the UN special envoy exposed her bias by releasing her report mid-way into their meeting.

“We are shocked that the UN and Douhan released its statement in the middle of our consultation. We are the biggest political party in Zimbabwe and we consider such conduct fraudulent, unprofessional and predetermined,” Biti tweeted.

“As MDC Alliance, we had a meeting with the UN special rapporteur on coercive measures, Douhan, from 3pm to 5pm this (Wednesday) afternoon. She advised us that our views would be considered and that she would hold a Press conference and then issue a Press statement (on Thursday).”

The MDC Alliance delegation that met Douhan included Biti, party secretary-general Chalton Hwende, secretary for international relations Gladys Hlyatwayo and welfare secretary Maureen Kademaunga.

Biti described Douhan’s preliminary report as a scandal since it was issued while they were still in a meeting with her.

Douhan’s 10-day visit to probe the impact of sanctions on Zimbabwe ended on Wednesday with an address to the media on her findings.

In the report, the envoy said the southern African country had been on sanctions for too long, hence it was difficult to decipher their impact as several factors needed to be taken into account.

“Unilateral sanctions, secondary sanctions and over-compliance in their complexity have exacerbated the pre-existing economic and humanitarian crisis, inhibiting the building of essential infrastructure and international and inter-institutional co-operation necessary for the achievement of the sustainable development goals,” part of the UN report read.

The UN accused Western countries of influencing her tour by allegedly threatening civic society organisations against meeting her.

“Although the special rapporteur had the opportunity to meet many representatives of independent civil society organisations and human rights defenders, she notes with regret that a substantial number of non-governmental organisations and some other interlocutors failed to engage with the mandate due to various hateful and intimidating messages that appeared in social media and news outlets, and an alleged fear of losing foreign donations,” the UN said in a statement yesterday.

“The special rapporteur reiterates her invitation to all interlocutors to share their views and experiences on the impact of unilateral sanctions on the enjoyment of human rights in Zimbabwe, ahead of the final report.”

Douhan also acknowledged that the country was in deep problems which Zanu PF alone could not solve, calling for meaningful dialogue between Harare and the West, opposition parties, civic organisations and other stakeholders.

A final report will be tabled at the UN Human Rights Commission in September 2020.

Political analyst Enerst Mdzengi said if what Biti claimed was true, then Douhan’s statement was “not a product of full consultations. The rapporteur could have misdirected herself.”

But analyst Alexander Rusero said Biti was undiplomatic in his claims.

“Biti should understand that a preliminary statement is an abstract, it is not the final statement,” he said.

“There is a balance of probabilities, on one side, the lifting of sanctions, which suits the Zanu PF narrative and on the other hand, acknowledgement of the deep-rooted problems in the country which Zanu PF cannot solve alone, but with genuine opposition, which means the MDC Alliance. The MDC Alliance should pick on the positives.”

Another analyst, Eldred Masunungure said: “To be impartial and objective, a special rapporteur, as a fact-finder, cannot midstream release a report that does not seem to capture the breath of opinion from another key stakeholder. That minimises the views of the stakeholders and the rapporteur deserves to be criticised for being partial. What she did shows an attempt to undermine the opinions of other contributors.”

While the UN has called for lifting of sanctions by the West against Zimbabwe as they are hurting the economy, the United States (US) has reiterated that corruption was the cause of Zimbabwe’s economic woes.

US senator Jim Risch, a leading member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Zimbabwe should implement tangible reforms and stop conducting pointless anti-sanctions campaigns that would not bring social, economic or political reforms.

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