The leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says the United Nations, Southern African Development Community, African Union and other international organizations should play a key role in normalizing the current political situation in Zimbabwe where at least 12 people have died, hundreds injured and over 600 locked up following a crackdown on protesters by state security agents.
Nelson Chamisa told reporters in Harare today that the situation has degenerated in Zimbabwe to the extent that there is need for outside intervention as President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is brutalizing civilians who staged public protests two weeks ago over the high cost of living.
“Individuals who are violating human rights are contravening the Constitution and international treaties and conventions on human rights. They also are doing intolerable damage to the reputation of these key national institutions of both the police and the army negating the citizens’ confidence in the same.
“Many have been abducted whose whereabouts remain unknown. Some have been tortured and raped. Internal displacements and damages to properties and homes in the high density areas have become rampant. “
He said beatings “have become a daily diet, with assaults being a routine dose. The challenge is that the full extent of these atrocities remains unknown. It is crucially important that there be a neutral, fact-finding mechanism process which is multilateral and judicial so as to determine the full extent of the atrocities that have been committed against the people.”
Chamisa noted that the notion that the very authorities alleged to be responsible for the atrocities should also audit the extent of these atrocities is unacceptable.
“It is irrational and inhuman to expect perpetrators to audit victims. It is equally irrational to expect the perpetrators to hold themselves accountable. The human rights situation now obtaining in Zimbabwe requires the appointment of a special UN rapporteur on Zimbabwe to ensure accountability. To our brothers and sisters in the SADC region, we say this is the time to stand with the peace-loving people of Zimbabwe. This is not the time to see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil, burying heads in the sand while a human rights crisis escalates into inordinate levels.
“How many people must die or be killed before a firm and principled stance against atrocities being committed in the country is taken. How much blood must flow on the streets before the eye and hand of the region is drawn to this dire situation. Our concern is that in spite of the letters and communication we have sent to SADC and the AU, they have remained mum in light of a precarious human rights situation in the country and an onslaught on a legitimate political movement in the country.”
He urged SADC and the AU to show solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe by stopping “this heinous onslaught on the country’s citizenry and facilitate dialogue to resolve the political stalemate I the country.
“Lives have been needlessly lost while innocent Zimbabweans have either been needlessly assaulted or are seeking refuge in the mountains for their safety. We urge urgent action to be taken in Zimbabwe to deal with the economic crisis, the humanitarian situation and the critical matter of a government that has become a grievous danger to the citizens. In a situation where party leaders and innocent members of parliament are being targeted, no one is safe.”
Chamisa further noted that the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission should institute a healing process that involves compensation, psycho-social support and rehabilitation of victims of state-sponsored violence.
“We call for the world to turn and train its eyes on Zimbabwe and to empathize with the innocent citizens undergoing a brutal onslaught with no prospect of respite on their plight. We urge the world, particularly our own SADC and the AU, to stand with the people of Zimbabwe and not with the Zimbabwe leadership.”
He related countless attacks on local people, including rape being allegedly perpetrated by soldiers. “The government must respect and honour the people because without them there is no authority to govern.
“To the State, there must be a cessation of lawlessness and break down of the rule of law. Lawlessness must be reversed. There must be affirmation, respect and observance of the Constitution. We must re-establish and re-entrench civilian police mandate to keep peace, law and order, taking our troops off the streets and the villages. Zimbabwe needs an urgent return to and restoration of constitutional rule, civilian administration and the rule of law, harassment of prisoners of conscience and release of political prisoners.”
Chamisa said state security agents should perform their duties professionally and in accordance with the laws of Zimbabwe. “There is no room for impunity and immunity.”
Some MDC lawmakers have been arrested while others are on the run as soldiers and police are looking for so-called ringleaders of the recent public protests.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba was not available for comment. – VOA.