Zim Civics Demand Democratic Space
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC)-a local conglomeration of more than 75 civic society organizations has urged the government to uphold tenets of democracy and desist from further shrinking the democratic space.
This comes as the world celebrates Democracy Day today the 15th of September – a day recognized by the United Nations (UN).
According to the UN, democracy is as much a process as a goal, and only with the full participation of and support by the international community, national governing bodies, civil society and individuals, can the ideal of democracy be made into a reality to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere.
“We note with great concern that despite assurances of a new dispensation, the government continues to thwart citizens’ fundamental rights,” said CZC.
“The push to introduce draconian legislation such as the Patriotic Bill to crush dissenting voices is unfortunate. We are greatly disturbed over government’s attempts to muzzle the operations of civil society organizations through amendments to the Private Voluntary Organizations Act.”
Recently, Harare Provincial Development Coordinator Tafadzwa Muguti directed all Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and churches, among other organizations, to seek operational clearance through his office.
The move was widely seen as government strategy of strictly monitoring operations of civil society organizations operations given the hostile relations between the two entities.
“Criminalization of civil society work and weaponisation of the law to clampdown on pro-democracy forces points to entrenchment of authoritarian rule,”
“Zimbabwe’s constitutional crisis, coupled with militarisation of key state institutions has led to the shrinking of the democratic space with the ruling party, Zanu PF abusing its parliamentary majority to amend the constitution and introduce draconian legislation,” said CZC.
However, Zimbabwean citizens have in the recent past been subjected to hideous acts of human rights violations attracting global condemnation.
Early this year, the US Embassy in Zimbabwe released a damning human rights report citing several examples of human rights abuses by the state security agents.
“The government enforced security laws in conflict with the constitution. Security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained persons, particularly political and civil society activists, labor leaders, and journalists perceived as opposing the government. Security forces frequently arrested large numbers of persons during and following antigovernment protests,” reads part of the report.
CZC has however called for genuine all stakeholders dialogue as a way of unlocking the multi-faceted crisis in Zimbabwe.