Zimbabwe has been flagged as one of the 56 authoritarians nations where citizens are deemed to be not free to express their democratic rights, a report by the Freedom House has said.
The President Emmerson Mnangagwa regime has been in the spotlight for human rights abuses which include silencing critics, suppression of opposition parties, a clampdown on the media as well as non-governmental organisations.
In the report, Zimbabwe was classified as one of the 44% of the countries adjudged as not free, while 41% and 15% of the countries were categorised as partly free and free respectively.
A total of 60 countries suffered declines over the past year, while only 25 improved. As of today, some 38 per cent of the global population live in Not Free countries, the highest proportion since 1997. Only about 20 per cent now live in Free countries,” Freedom House said.
The report notes that global freedom faces a dire threat from “enemies of liberal democracy—a form of self-government in which human rights are recognized and every individual is entitled to equal treatment under the law—are accelerating their attacks.
The report revealed that authoritarian regimes, including Mnangagwa’s, have become more effective at co-opting or circumventing the norms and institutions meant to support basic liberties, and providing aid to others who wish to do the same.
It also emphasised the importance of elections in democratic nations (Freedom House)
“Free and fair elections are a cornerstone of any democracy, and independent and transparent electoral processes are necessary to foster a competitive electoral environment and citizens’ trust in election integrity. It is essential that citizens be able to exercise their right to vote with relative ease.
“Special attention should be given to addressing discriminatory barriers to voting. In some countries, members of certain racial or ethnic groups have difficulty obtaining the documentation they need to vote or face other undue obstacles to voting,” the report further states.
Zimbabwe held by-elections over the weekend which, in the lead-up, were marred by ugly scenes of politically motivated violence as the state clamped down on the Citizens Coalition for Change.
However, the opposition triumphed in 19 of the 28 contested parliamentary seats.