The January 2019 scenario was another major clampdown on citizens and was carried out resulting in 17 extra-judicial killings, 17 cases of rape and other violations of a sexual nature, 26 abductions, 61 displacements, 81 assaults consistent with gunshot attacks, at least 586 assaults, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment (including dog bites), and 954 arrests and detention (including dragnet detentions). Further, a record breaking 22 MDC and Civil Society leaders including parliamentarians and labor leaders face trumped up charges of treason and subversion.
On 16 July 2019, labor leaders received anonymous letters with bullets in a clear move meant to intimidate the labor movement against exercising their right to peacefully demonstrate and petition. Where is SADC’s responsibility to protect? When will SADC, just for once, stand with the people of Zimbabwe and express solidarity not with Zimbabwe but with Zimbabweans?
Yes. Zimbabweans have had enough of a SADC that is always congratulating the President of Zimbabwe and expressing solidarity with the State but never addressing itself to the plight of the ordinary people brutalized by the State.
As SADC leaders were meeting in Dar es Salaam over the weekend, Zimbabwean State agents were busy abducting civil society and political activists; while the police and army were issuing illegal prohibition orders like confetti to deny citizens from holding peaceful demonstrations against the worsening economic hardships induced not by sanctions but by unprecedented corruption through rent-seeking schemes like command agriculture, fuel cartels and abuse of treasury bills by the ruling elite.
On the back of Zimbabwe’s crisis of illegitimacy, these hardships induced by corruption coupled with incompetence are causing multitudes of Zimbabweans to cross the borders into neighbouring SADC countries, notably but not only South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia. The consequences of the emigration influx on regional economies are too ghastly to contemplate, yet SADC leaders continue to bury their heads in the sand like ostriches, only to raise the heads when they want to pontificate about 18-year old sanctions while doing nothing about them in real economic terms.
The MDC reiterates that the root cause of Zimbabwe’s problems is political, being a crisis of governance. A legitimacy crisis.
The July 2018 elections further entrenched the legitimacy crisis through a fundamentally flawed electoral process that did not guarantee the will of the people. The 2018 plebiscite did not conform to the provisions of the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections andthe African Union (AU) Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections.
The electoral process was marred by irregularities including a highly partisan and captured Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, lack of transparency in the electoral process including on the printing and storage of ballot papers and poor stakeholder engagement by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, a party-state-military complex, partisan conduct of traditional leaders, partisan distribution of food aid, widespread Intimidation, abuse of State resources, biased State media, an Electoral Law that is not aligned to the Constitution of Zimbabwe including the disfranchisement of diasporans and post-election violence. Such a flawed electoral process perpetuated the legitimacy crisis and is manifesting in the current socio-economic crisis, deteriorating human rights situation and lethargy.
Moreover, there was an outright fudging of the figures as demonstrated by the fact that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission revised downwards its own figures a record three times in a plebiscite SADC still held as credible.
The MDC urges SADC to urgently take note of the worsening situation in Zimbabwe as a threat to peace and security in the region and to recognize its responsibility to protect. We urge SADC to take the following specific actions:
- Urgently be seized of the matter of Zimbabwe in order to address the multifaceted crisis and prevent further deterioration of the situation.
- Urgently find a lasting solution to the Zimbabwean crisis anchored on facilitated and credible national dialogue.