Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) has expressed concern over what it says is the persecution of human rights defenders and criminalisation of civil society work following the arrests of opposition politicians and civic society leaders.
Addressing journalists in Harare on Wednesday, CiZC chairperson Peter Mutasa said the arrests and oppression are an indication of the colonial era meant to clampdown on human rights defenders.
“We are extremely disturbed by a continuing pattern whereby human rights defenders who have justifiably spoken against misgovernance have been victims of this oppression which is reminiscent of the colonial era. The CiZC continues to note with huge concern, the weaponization of the law enforcement and justice systems by the Government to clamp down on human rights defenders
“We urge the Zimbabwe Republic Police to act professionally in the conduct of their duties, upholding this Constitution and enforcing the law without bias and desist from acting as a vigilante force for the ruling party,” said Mutasa
Turning to the political environment, Mutasa pleaded with the Government to consider the issue of electoral reforms a matter of urgency.
“We implore the government to seriously consider the issue of electoral reforms as an urgent matter. It is our hope that all stakeholders will consider the issue of electoral reforms as key to getting back our country on a positive development trajectory.
“It is also imperative for ZEC to act in an impartial and independent manner and desist from acting as commissars of the ruling party. ZEC must be transparent and accountable to all contesting parties and the general citizenry. However, we hazard that electoral reforms must not be taken as a stand-alone and isolated from reform in economic governance as well as public service delivery, where devolution remains a key tool for improving governance and achieving inclusive development,” he said
Mutasa said CiZC had endorsed calls for a broad alliance by citizens and urged Zimbabweans to remain united in defence of the Constitution.
“The Coalition has endorsed a call by citizens across the country to forge a ‘broad alliance’ to tackle the numerous challenges facing the country and we will continue to mobilise progressive citizens to demand reforms that will lead to a democratic and economically developed Zimbabwe.
“We urge progressive Zimbabweans to remain united in defence of their constitutionally guaranteed rights while exercising the right to peaceful protests as enshrined under Section 59 of the constitution. On another call upon the government of Zimbabwe to seriously consider recommendations from civil society titled the CSO Framework for Dialogue and the Resolution of the Zimbabwean Crisis” Mutasa said
He said the Coalition will engage partners in the region and internationally in urging for a ‘scaffolding’ of the protracted transition in Zimbabwe and that conditions in the country cannot self-correct but require the guidance and assistance of regional actors, especially SADC.