Zimbabwe

 

  • After elections, hard work starts for Zimbabwe’s civil society

    By Teldah Mawarire, CIVICUS Campaigns and Advocacy Officer

    For many Zimbabwean voters, casting their ballots on July 30 is sure to be a somewhat surreal experience. For the first time since the country’s independence, the ever-present face of Robert Mugabe will not be staring back at them on the ballot paper. But that new experience – while perhaps inspiring hopes for positive change among some – is likely to be preceded by an old, familiar feeling of déjà vu. The road to the 2018 general election has been littered with the same potholes of electoral irregularities and restrictive laws of previous polls.

    Read on: Inter Press Service 

     

  • Alarming trends facing protest movements

     

    40th Session of the Human Rights Council
    Statement delivered during General Debate (Monday 11 March)

    CIVICUS is deeply alarmed that protest movements find themselves on the frontlines of a global attack on democracy and human rights. Across the world, protest movements are being met by campaigns of violence and aggression from states that are increasingly brazen about defying global human rights commitments.

    At a time when many hard-won gains are being directly threatened by state and non-state actors, we urge the states present here today to recall that it was people organising in protest and civil disobedience who rolled back slavery, overturned colonial and racist systems of governance, and fought for women’s rights.

    Today, these struggles persist. Yet governments are increasingly responding to legitimate demands of protesters and their movements with absolute intolerance, including extra-judicial killings and torture. 

    CIVICUS echoes the concerns raised by the High Commissioner regarding the brutal crackdown on protests in Zimbabwe, where scores of unarmed civilians have been killed and children as young as 12 arrested, as well as the systemic campaign of brutality deployed against peaceful protesters in Sudan. 

    We ask all states present here today: what measures will you take to ensure that emerging protest movements from Serbia to Algeria to Malawi are nurtured rather than repressed?

     

  • As reprisals continue in Zimbabwe, CIVICUS calls on international bodies to intervene

    (Johannesburg 7 August 2020) CIVICUS calls on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and African Union (AU) to denounce ongoing human rights violations in Zimbabwe and act decisively against the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Increasing human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, together with the silence of the international community, have prompted an online campaign #ZimbabweanLivesMatter. There have been more than 700,000 tweets in the last few days as people from across the world express their solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe.

     

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  • Can Zim exiles finally return home?

    By Teldah Mawarire, Advocacy and Campaigns Coordinator 

    I know many Zimbabweans in the diaspora. I am one of them. Many such exiled Zimbabweans have written public break-up letters with the country of their birth and “filed for divorce” because the relationship had become too “toxic”. With each passing election, nothing changes despite all the promises. Yet with every election, that tortured relationship is rekindled with hope. Perhaps this one will deliver the chance to return home.

    Read on: City Press

     

  • Civic space and fundamental freedoms in Zimbabwe

    Joint Statement at the 41st Session of the Human Rights Council

    CIVICUS and the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) welcome the High Commissioner’s update. With a continued focus on prevention, we request the High Commissioner and the Council to pay attention to the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe. The government has continued with its crackdown on civil society in violation of fundamental rights and freedoms.

    The state’s attacks on civil society have been systematic. Since the January 2019 shutdown atrocities where more than 17 people were shot dead and several injured, civil society members across the country have reported an increase in surveillance, abductions, arbitrary arrests and detention and interruption of their meetings by suspected state agents. Their legitimate and vital work of providing oversight, supporting and protecting vulnerable citizens, is now criminalised.

    The nation is currently gripped with a crippling economic situation which is creating a restless population. The response of the government by closing civic space and trampling on fundamental freedoms is deplorable.

    In the same period, Zimbabwe’s state-controlled media has led an onslaught against civil society leaders whom they accuse of planning to topple the government. These baseless allegations have been followed by a spate of arrests of civil society activists.  A total of eleven civil society leaders are currently facing charges designed to criminalise human rights work.

    CIVICUS and the Forum request the members of the Council to pay special attention to the situation in Zimbabwe, to read the warning signs of a deteriorating situation and act accordingly.


    Civic space in Zimbabwe is rated as Repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor

     

  • Countries that require the attention of the UN Human Rights Council

    39th Session of the Human Rights Council
    Oral Statement  

    Members of the CIVICUS Alliance in Zimbabwe have expressed grave concern for the authorities’ heavy-handed response to protests in Harare one day after presidential elections were held. Military personnel deployed in response to the protests shot live bullets at protesters, killing at least 6 and injuring many others. We call on the government of Zimbabwe to conduct a prompt, credible and impartial investigation in the excessive and lethal use of force during the course of these demonstrations.

    In Bahrain, SALAM for Democracy & Human Rights, a member of the CIVICUS Alliance, has documented cases of arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture and ill-treatment of human rights defenders. All major opposition parties have now been dissolved and stripped of their assets. We are equally concerned that security personnel continue to wilfully arrest, physically assault and even kill demonstrators for exercising their legitimate right to public dissent. We urge the Council going to hold the government of Bahrain fully accountable for any violations of its international obligations.

    Finally, Mr. President, in Bangladesh, over the past year, authorities have used a rage of repressive laws to target and harass journalists and human rights defenders, restrict freedom of assembly and carry out enforced disappearances of opposition supporters ahead of national elections scheduled for late 2018. We call on the government of Bangladesh to drop all unwarranted charges and end the persecution of individuals and groups for exercising their fundamental rights.

     

  • Human rights groups demand Zimbabwe stop violent repression of protesters and respect fundamental freedoms

    • Security forces violently repress protests, killing at least eight and injuring more than a dozen after using live ammunition against demonstrators
    • Hundreds of protesters arrested during a three-day national shutdown called to protest massive fuel price hikes, with reports of security forces assaulting citizens in their homes
    • Leading human rights defender Evan Mawarire among those arrested and charged with public violence
    • Authorities shut down social media sites and the internet, only partially restoring online access after the end of the strike action
    • Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and Civil Society alliance, CIVICUS call on South Africa and the African Union to act to prevent more violence

    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, have called on the authorities in Zimbabwe to exercise restraint and desist from using violence against peaceful protesters who have been demonstrating against a massive increase in fuel prices.

    Security forces used brute force against Zimbabweans who took to the streets during a three-day national strike to protest President Emerson Mnangagwa’s decision to raise the fuel price by more than 150%. This astronomical price hike would see the cost of petrol increase from US$ 1.4 per litre to US$ 3.31 per litre and diesel from US$ 1.36 to US$ 3.31 per litre. The national protests come amidst a deterioration in economic conditions, fuel shortages and ever-increasing prices of food and basic necessities.

    To protest Mnangagwa’s announcement, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and activists called for a national shutdown of businesses, schools and places of work.

    In response, security forces used live ammunition on protesting crowds while in the Matabeleland region, in particular, soldiers reportedly invaded protesters’ homes and shot occupants. Yesterday, army and police officers surrounded the home of human rights defender and leader of the #ThisFlag movement, Evan Mawarire, before arresting and detaining him. Mawarire has been charged with inciting public violence through social media and is yet to appear in court.

    Reports from the ground indicate that armed police, soldiers and masked men have caused mayhem as they kidnapped, harassed, intimidated and attacked citizens, while the streets remained heavily militarized.

    “We are alarmed by incidents of extreme violence being reported, which include shooting at peaceful protestors and forcefully removing people from their homes. This is a gross violation of people’s right to organise and freely express themselves, said Lysa John, Secretary General of CIVICUS.

    “Zimbabwean authorities must immediately stop using violence against its citizens and withdraw the military from the streets. We urge the South African government to intervene immediately to contain this crisis. The African Union must act with urgency to ensure that peace returns to Zimbabwe and hold those involved in the killing and harming of civilians accountable for their actions,” John said.

    “We are concerned about threats targeting leaders of civil society, specifically Crisis in Zimbabwe Action leaders and its Secretariat who are falsely accused of hosting numerous meetings with a plan to unseat the Mnangagwa administration.” Said Tabani Moyo, Spokesperson for the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.

    “This statement is quite unfortunate as the public space is awash with our position calling for an inclusive national dialogue with all stakeholders.” Moyo continued.

    In a move reminiscent of the manner in which the previous government of President Robert Mugabe often operated, authorities shut down social media sites and completely cut off access to internet during the mass action. Online access has now reportedly been partially restored but social networks remains inaccessible.

    The CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society in all countries, has rated civic space – the space for civil society – in Zimbabwe as “Repressed”. This means civil society is significantly constrained and active individuals and civil society members who criticise power holders risk surveillance, harassment, imprisonment, injury or death.

    For more information, please contact:

    Teldah Mawarire

    Grant Clark

    Click here for our Press Centre

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CIVICUS/

    Twitter: @CIVICUSalliance

     

  • Resilience in times of shrinking civic space: How Resilient Roots organisations are attempting to strengthen their roots through primary constituent accountability

    Soulayma Mardam Bey (CIVICUS) and Isabelle Büchner (Accountable Now)

    The systematic crackdown on peaceful protests and demonstrations across the world has shaped our understanding of repression against civil society organisations (CSOs). Yet, less-spectacular restrictions such as increased bureaucratic requirements imposed by governments are not necessarily less threatening to CSO resilience.

    While those tactics significantly hamper CSOs’ ability to operate and can reduce primary constituents' trust in CSOs' ability to represent them legitimately, we also need to acknowledge that these symptoms can stem from our own inappropriate approaches to accountability. When CSOs are not accountable to their roots, this can serve as a breeding ground for governments’ and other non-state actors’ anti-CSOs strategies and rhetoric.  

    The Resilient Roots initiative is aiming to test whether CSOs who are more accountable and responsive to their primary constituents are more resilient against threats to their civic space. 15 organisations from diverse countries and contexts have partnered with us to design and rollout innovative accountability experiments over a 12 month period. These experiments will explore how public support and trust in CSOs can be improved through practising what we call primary constituent accountability, which aims to establish a meaningful dialogue with those groups that organisations exist to support, and increase their engagement in CSO decision-making.

    Accountability and resilience are both highly context-specific and vary not just from country to country but also along an organisation’s thematic focus, size and approach. This means that we need to explore the relationship between accountability and resilience on a case by case basis and across a variety of very different contexts. Keeping this in mind - and without further adieu - read on to meet the some of Resilient Roots Accountability Pilot Project organisations:

    One of these organisations is the Poverty Reduction Forum Trust (PRFT) from Zimbabwe. In the rural area of Dora, in the district of Mutare, they aim to systematically validate actions and strategies through constituent-led monitoring of programme progress. As a platform for civil society that aims to address the root-causes and diverse manifestations of poverty in Zimbabwe, they may face very different challenges from an organisation that works on more politically polarising topics.

    For example, Russian CSO OVD-Info is an independent human rights media project that monitors detentions and other cases of politically motivated harassment, informs media and human rights organisations on the state of political repression in Russia, and provides legal assistance to activists. For the Resilient Roots initiative, OVD-Info seeks to set up a dashboard to serve as a data visualisation tool, which will help evaluate the efficiency of its projects and motivate their constituents to play a stronger role in the organisation’s decision-making.

    In contrast to the technology and data-driven approach of OVD-Info, FemPLatz is a women’s rights organisation from Serbia that seeks a more direct and personal approach. They plan to gather feedback from their constituents through focus group discussions, interviews and workshops while also improving their communication with their constituents through the publication of a regular newsletter. This will allow their constituents to monitor their work and get in contact with them to provide feedback.

    A newsletter can also contribute to closing the feedback loop. Projet Jeune Leader (PJL) from Madagascar, for example, will engage young adolescents, their parents and school administrations to establish a coordinated and systematic means to collect feedback. They will collect feedback through participatory scorecards, stories from primary constituents around the changes triggered by the project, and an updated youth magazine to get closer to their constituents. PJL works on a comprehensive sexual-reproductive health education and leadership development program integrated into public middle schools.

    A particularly creative approach comes from Solidarity Now. Through multimedia productions, their primary constituents will express their daily perceptions, challenges, and dreams through the making and sharing of interactive material like video clips. Solidarity Now consists of a network of organisations and people whose goal is to assist and support the populations affected by the economic and humanitarian crises in Greece. Through the provision of services to both local Greeks and migrant populations, it seeks to restore the vision of a strong Europe based on solidarity and open values.

    In Asia, Climate Watch Thailand (CWT) is an organisation working to drive changes in attitudes towards climate change, and trigger action on the topic. As part of the initiative, CWT is going to strengthen how they formulate policy asks, by continuously testing their relevance to their constituents and this gaining wider support.

    Unfortunately, not all the organisations we work with in this initiative feel comfortable enough to publicly associate themselves to Resilient Roots, without the fear of inciting further anti-CSO responses in their local context. Such is the case of our Ugandan partner, a reminder of how delicate civic spaces are and how important it is for our sector to better understand how to strengthen CSO resilience in recent times.

    These diverse organisations are using a variety of approaches to work on CSO accountability, and we are incredibly excited to be exploring with them how different accountability practices fare in different regional and thematic contexts. What factors will make them successful and where will they need to adjust? In what circumstances does increased accountability actually lead to increased resilience? We are looking forward to sharing this journey with you: how they progress with their projects, the things they are learning, and what you can draw from their experiences to inform the work of your own organisation.

     

    Resilient Roots blog

     

  • SADC should urge respect of the rule of law in Zimbabwe’s post-elections crisis

    JOHANNESBURG: The Southern African Development Community (SADC) should urge Zimbabwean authorities to show restraint and respect of the rule of law in the wake of a violent crackdown on post-election protests.

    Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, is calling on SADC to engage Zimbabwe on its response to protesters who express dissatisfaction with the administration of the July 30 general elections.

    At least six people were killed and many more injured when security forces used live ammunition against protesters in the capital Harare, as the country awaited the results of the historic vote.  Riot police and military in armoured vehicles swept through the streets, targeting bystanders and forcing others to shutter businesses and return home.  Several journalists covering the event were intimidated and forced to stop working.

    On August 4, riot police dispersed a press conference organised by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the capital, Harare.  Before that, police raided MDC headquarters, arresting party members and charging them with inciting and engaging in political violence.  Most are currently being held in Harare’s notorious Chikarubi Maximum Security Prison.  Security forces have intimidated the political opposition and ordinary citizens, arresting supporters of the MDC.  Some have been abducted and others have gone into hiding.  The army is also harassing, under the cover of darkness, activists it suspects of leading the organization of protests.

     The release of the results of the 30 July elections and the actions of the army and riot police have brought back traumatic memories of decades of repression suffered by Zimbabweans, under the regime of ousted president Robert Mugabe.

     “The use of live ammunition against unarmed civilians can never be justified,” said David Kode, CIVICUS Campaigns and Advocacy lead.

    “As responsible neighbours and stakeholders of peace in the region, SADC leaders should send a clear message to Zimbabwean authorities to act with integrity and respect the rule of law including exercise of fundamental freedom.”

    The 30 July elections were expected to usher in a new era of democratic governance in Zimbabwe after the military coup in November 2017 but the post elections crisis has led to uncertainty and demonstrated that the military continues to cast an ominous shadow over politics.  Zimbabwean authorities invoked the restrictive Public Order and Security Act to enable the armed forces intervene.  

    The right to freedom of expression, association and assembly is enshrined in the Zimbabwean constitution. SADC should call on the government and security forces to exercise restraint and respect these fundamental rights of citizens including the right to assemble peacefully.  

    CIVICUS Monitor, an online tool that tracks threats to civil society in all countries around the world, rates the space for civil society in Zimbabwe as “repressed.”

    ENDS.

     

    For more information, please contact:

    David Kode

     

    Grant Clark

     

     

  • What future for civil society in Zimbabwe?

    By Teldah Mawarire and David Kode

    During the stand-off between the military and President Mugabe that led to his historic resignation, there was reason for hope. Zimbabwe's civil society must now re-invent itself to ensure this hope lives on.

    Read on: Open Democracy

     

  • Why SADC must reinvent or remain irrelevant

    By Teldah Mawarire 

    In times of political crises, as was recently experienced in Zimbabwe, citizens expect the regional body to take a bold stance against leaders who disregard human rights and hinder the advancement of democracy. Zimbabweans were quick to remember the numerous previous failures of the regional community. They roundly rejected SADC’s intervention.

    Read on: Pambazuka

     

  • Zimbabwe government must respect the right to protest and investigate abduction and torture of activists

    The government of Zimbabwe must respect the right of its citizens to peacefully protest and must allow demonstrations, planned for Friday, August 16, to go ahead without violence from security forces.

    Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, has called on Zimbabwean authorities to uphold fundamental freedoms, including the right to protest. The government has banned public rallies called to protest its handling of the country’s economic crisis.

    CIVICUS has also strongly condemned the abduction and torture of human rights defenders, including Tatenda Mombeyarara, earlier this week.

    Mombeyara was one of at least six rights activists who were abducted by suspected state agents on August 13 and 14 from his home this week, brutally assaulted, tortured and left for dead at a stone quarry in the capital, Harare. The unidentified men accused him of being involved in organizing today’s planned protest marches. Mombeyara, who is recovering from injuries including broken bones, damaged kidneys and chemical burns, is one of seven activists arrested in May on their return from peacebuilding workshops in the Maldives and charged with plotting to overthrow the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

    “We are also deeply concerned about a continued repression of fundamental freedoms in Zimbabwe and what appears to be a culture of impunity and a general lack of investigations into human rights violations,”, said Paul Mulindwa, Advocacy and Campaigns Officer at CIVICUS.

    “The abduction and torture of activists comes amid an ongoing military operation and restrictive environment for human rights defenders in the country,” Mulindwa said.

    The human rights situation in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate, despite earlier promises from the Mnangagwa administration of an end to Mugabe-era repression tactics. Civic freedoms, including freedoms of association, peaceful assembly, and expression, are routinely and violently repressed by Zimbabwean authorities. The CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society around the globe, rates civic space – the space for civil society – in Zimbabwe as “repressed”. State authorities continue to harass, and arbitrarily arrest those exercising their rights to assemble and voice dissent. Human rights defenders have been subjected to assaults, arbitrary arrest, and enforced disappearance.

    "The occurrences are deeply hurting,” said Nyaradzo Mashayamombe, with Zimbabwean rights NGO, Tag a Life International (TaLI).

    “The security forces does not need to beat and dehumanise people but to monitor and guide peaceful activities of citizens.,” said Mashayamombe.

    CIVICUS has called on the Zimbabwean security forces to avoid using excessive force against protesters as well as for a quick, fair, and independent investigation into the cases of abduction and torture of Mombeyarara and other activists.

    ENDS.

    For more information, please contact:

    Paul Mulindwa

     

  • Zimbabwe Police arbitrarily arrest trade union leaders over planned protests

    • Police arrest, assault union leaders and members ahead of planned peaceful march
    • Authorities banned demonstrations against economic crisis, citing cholera concerns
    • Protests prompted by fuel queues, new tax on money transfers impacting mostly poor
    • National, global NGO groups urge government to respect the protected rights of citizens

    Global and national civil society groups have expressed concern at the arrest of trade union leaders in Zimbabwe ahead of planned peaceful protests.

    Zimbabwean police pre-empted nationwide demonstrations against the deepening economic crisis in the country, scheduled for October 11, by banning them and arbitrarily arresting organisers belonging to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).

    The National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO) and global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, has urged the authorities to show restraint and respect the constitutionally protected rights of all Zimbabweans.

    Police banned the protests citing concerns of a cholera outbreak in recent weeks. The unions say they are being targeted because of their dissenting message as other gatherings had been allowed to proceed.

    ZCTU members were arrested in the capital, Harare as well as in the cities of Mutare and Masvingo. According to reports, police were armed with truncheons, tear smoke canisters and accompanied by water cannons during the raids. Several union members were assaulted. ZCTU president Peter Mutasa and secretary general Japhet Moyo were among those arrested.

    Following a disputed 30 July 2018 election outcome, economic uncertainty has deepened in Zimbabwe, which has been struggling with foreign currency shortages, hyper-inflation and erosion of the local currency. This has triggered fuel queues as business slowed down in response to the economic decline.

    The government also recently imposed a new 2% tax on mobile money transactions that the unions said will be borne mostly by the poor. Trade unions had organised a protest to highlight these trying economic circumstances to the government and raise concerns about the hardships the new tax would bring for the poor.

    “It had been our sincere hope that after the election in August, the authorities would open more space for citizens, civil society and trade unions to freely express their opinions including through peaceful protests,” said Leonard Mandishara, NANGO Executive Director.

    “Hence, we are disappointed that the authorities are still employing methods of an era gone by to silence dissent,” said Mandishara.

    NANGO also said civil society is awaiting with much anticipation the outcome of a commission of enquiry established after six people were shot dead by the military in Harare at an election-related protest.

    CIVICUS calls on the Zimbabwean government to engage with civil society and trade unions on the fundamental rights of citizens including the right to assemble peacefully.

    NANGO is a non-partisan, non-profit organisation and the official, non-denominational coordinating body of NGOs in Zimbabwe. It is mandated by its membership to coordinate the activities of NGOs, represent the NGO sector and strengthen the voice of NGOs in Zimbabwe.

    ENDS.

    For more information, please contact:

    Leonard Mandishara, NANGO Director

    Teldah Mawarire, CIVICUS Advocacy and Campaigns Officer

     

  • Zimbabwe: CIVICUS urges release of #ThisFlag Pastor Mawarire, detained and charged with “treason”

    Update: 08 February 2017
    A High Court judge granted Evan Mawarire bail of 300USD and ordered him to surrender his passport and report to Avondale Police station twice a week. 

    Update: 03 February 2017:
    On Friday 03 February 2017 Pastor Evan Mawarire appeared in court. Charged with subversion, plots to remove a constitutionally-elected government, abuse of the national flag and inciting public violence, he was denied bail and remanded in custody until 17 February 2017.

    CIVICUS urges the release from detention of Pastor Evan Mawarire, a Zimbabwean activist who was arrested on arrival at Harare International Airport on 1 February 2017. Pastor Mawarire, who was returning to his country from the USA, was arrested and charged with subverting a constitutionally elected government. He is currently being held at the Harare Central Police Station.

    According to Pastor Mawarire’s lawyer, he is also facing charges for organising demonstrations against Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe during the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2016, and for protests that were held after he left Zimbabwe six months ago.

    In May 2016, Pastor Mawarire sparked a citizen movement in Zimbabwe called #ThisFlag that urged citizens to display the Zimbabwean flag for seven days as a way to send a message to the government that they wanted an end to corruption, injustice and economic deterioration in the country.

    “The charges against Pastor Mawarire are trumped up and are designed to punish him for exercising his legitimate rights to the freedom of expression and assembly,” says Sara Brandt, Policy and Research Analyst at CIVICUS. “We believe that the Zimbabwean government is intentionally trying to silence him and the #ThisFlag movement.”

    CIVICUS calls on the Zimbabwean government to release Pastor Mawarire urgently, and drop all charges against him. 

    Civic Space in Zimbabwe is rated as repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor.

     

  • Zimbabwe: Civil society concerned as human rights violations persist after violent reprisal for protests

    Human rights violations continue in Zimbabwe in the aftermath of the violent attacks against protesters on 14 to 16 January 2019. More than 700 people have been detained. The military continues to physically assault citizens and the legal process for many of those who are in detention is seriously flawed. We need to stand in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe and call on the government to address the concerns of its citizens, stop all human rights violations, demilitarise the streets and release all those detained in relation to the protests. Sign the letter below addressed to President Emmerson Mnangagwa with a call for him to address these human rights concerns.


    21 February 2019

    Office of the President and Cabinet

    Munhumutapa Building

    Corner Samora Machel Avenue and Sam Nujoma

    Harare, Zimbabwe

    Tel: 00 263 24270 7091/7

    Email:

     

    Dear Sir,

    Re: Civil society concerned as human rights violations persist after violent reprisal for protests

    We the undersigned civil society organisations, based in different countries across the world, write to you to express our concerns over the continued human rights violations taking place in Zimbabwe, more than a month after the violent reprisal for protests. We are appalled at the ongoing violence targeting ordinary citizens and members of civil society and high levels of impunity enjoyed by those responsible for these actions.

    Mr. President, there is an urgent need for inclusive dialogue in Zimbabwe and for the deep divisions and mistrust fostered by recent events between the government, civil society and citizens to be addressed. Since protests were violently dispersed from 14 to 16 January 2019, the streets in Zimbabwe have been heavily militarised and soldiers have been breaking into homes and subjecting citizens to some of the worst forms of human rights violations that have included shootings, severe assaults and rape. The human cost from the response to the protests is immense. At least seventeen people were killed during the protests or succumbed to injuries from the violations, more than 316 injured, many with gunshot wounds, and at least 700 arbitrarily arrested or detained. The arbitrary arrests and sentencing of many is at variance with Zimbabwe’s Criminal Procedures and Evidence Act. A majority of those detained have been subjected to flawed legal processes including mass trials, and many are been denied bail. Some have been brought to the courts with visible injuries, requiring urgent medical attention and many more subjected to mass trials without proper access to legal representation. There is an urgent need for the respect the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

    We are concerned by reports which indicate that in the aftermath of the protests, security forces raided medical facilities, including the Belvedere Medical Centre in Harare, where some of the injured received medical attention and assaulted them again before whisking them off to detention in police stations. Many human rights defenders and civil society representatives have been targeted and accused of colluding with the political opposition to “unseat” the regime. Some have been forced to go into hiding in Zimbabwe and others have had to flee the country to avoid being subjected to torture or worse. Human rights defender Pastor Evan Mawarire is free on stringent bail conditions and also faces charges of subverting the government while the Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) Japhet Moyo has been detained and injured and faces charges of attempting to overthrow a constitutionally elected government.

    Mr. President, before the 30 July 2018 elections, many Zimbabweans – and most of us in the international community – had hoped to see a peaceful political transition that would usher a new dawn where the rule of law was upheld, and the fundamental rights of all citizens respected. Unfortunately, we are witnessing a continuation of violence against citizens who legitimately exercise their discontent over excessive hikes in the prices of basic commodities and a deteriorating economic environment. While we welcome the release of some of those detained, many more remain behind bars unjustly.

    We urge your government to initiate efforts to find a lasting solution to the challenges affecting Zimbabwe.

    We appeal to you to urgently organise a multi-stakeholder dialogue process that will bring together your government, members of civil society, the political opposition, youth, academics, labour representatives and representatives of the religious community and minority groups, to chart a path to peace, in which all Zimbabweans can participate.

    We urge your government to immediately withdraw armed soldiers out of residential and city areas in both urban and rural Zimbabwe and to carry out an independent investigation into the violence and ensure that perpetrators from the Zimbabwe National Army and Zimbabwe police are held accountable.

    Endorsed by

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  • Zimbabwe’s transition: prioritise restraint and respect for human rights

    Johannesburg -Global civil society alliance CIVICUS urges the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and all stakeholders in Zimbabwe to continue to exercise restraint and respect the rights and fundamental freedoms of all citizens during this period of political transition.