BY MOSES MATENGA SADC has not responded to a plea by Zimbabwean civil society organisations (CSOs) which last month petitioned the organ to intervene and order President Emmerson Mnangagwa to, among other things, call for by-elections.
Over 350 organisations under the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition banner wrote to Sadc chairperson and Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera on September 8, and pleaded with him to rein in Mnangagwa. They accuse him of closing the democratic space by suspending by-elections and continually clamping down on opposing views.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition director Blessing Vava told The Standard yesterday that Sadc was yet to respond to their letter and would soon follow up on the matter.
“We are yet to get feedback from Sadc and we will be following it up,” Vava said, adding that the situation in Zimbabwe needed immediate intervention.
In the letter, the civil society organisations accused Mnangagwa of seeking to push for a one-party state system through banning by-elections.
Mnangagwa has through his Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga, suspended by-elections indefinitely under the guise of enforcing Covid-19 safety protocols.
The organisations said the argument by Mnangagwa’s administration that by-elections would endanger people’s lives lacked basis as some countries including those within Sadc like Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and South Africa have held polls under the same conditions.
By-elections were necessitated by recalls of MDC Alliance MPs and councillors by the MDC-T since last year.
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“If other countries like Malawi, Zambia and very soon South Africa are following their constitutions and giving the governance of their countries to the hands of their citizens, why would Zimbabwe fail to organise and hold by-elections according to the law,” the organisations argued.
“The sad indicators herein point towards regression towards a closed and one-party state in Zimbabwe. Your Excellency, we note with concern that the situation in Zimbabwe is moving towards total disregard of the will of the people and lack of respect for the Constitution,” the letter to Chakwera reads in part.
“It remains our position that the current abuse of state power in labelling all those with different views as terrorists and enemies of the state has been long-standing challenges for post-colonial Zimbabwe.”
The organisations said journalists, lawyers and political actors at the forefront of exposing illicit deals and corruption had been targeted for arrest and persecution, hence the need for Sadc to intervene.
Last week, over 10 journalists were arrested in Harare while covering a protest by the MDC Alliance at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) offices in the capital.
Among the issues raised was the Mnangagwa administration’s failure to implement recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the deadly post-election violence of August 1, 2018, in which soldiers killed six people.
The commission, which was chaired by former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, recommended, among other things, the need for inclusive dialogue and holding the killer soldiers accountable.