NGOs Call For SADC, AU To Monitor Zim Demonstrations

Human rights defenders have called on regional bodies and the rest of the world to keenly monitor political developments unfolding in the country ahead of a weeklong wave of demonstrations to be carried out by main opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the context of a resurgence of alleged state sponsored abductions and torture.

Speaking on the sidelines of a press conference held in Harare earlier today, chair of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Jestina Mukoko implored on SADC and AU to keep watch on rising tensions in the country in order to avoid loss of human life.

“We urge the SADC, AU and other regional institutions to cast a close eye on events unfolding in Zimbabwe. It’s of no use for us to then discuss in hindsight, after lives have been lost. It’s important that we find ways to avoid the worst before it unfolds. We also want the police and the military to safeguard the lives of demonstrators and not to take lives away,”

“Citizens should have trust in the role of the police and the military to protect them and ensure that peace prevail during the demonstrations,” said Mukoko.

In the past three days alone, six political and human rights activists have been victims to abductions and torture, revealing gruesome blemishes from the beatings.

“We regret that there are already indications that some suspected state security agents may have started attacking human rights defenders as well as political actors. Sadly, these developments remind us of the atrocities committed earlier this year in January. We denounce and condemn statements by senior government officials particularly statements by deputy minister of defense Victor Matemadanda which are a celebration of and an incitement to the killing of civilians exercising their democratic rights,” added Mukoko.

Recently deputy minister of defense, Victor Matemadanda was quoted in various press implying that the military will intervene.

On Monday, Matemadanda went further to say the demonstrations slated for this Friday “will not happen,” a statement widely construed to say the state was prepared to stop people from demonstrating.

“It’s shocking that we still have a minister who still do not understand what the law says and who pretend as if they do not know that demonstrations are a right as enshrined in the Constitution. Its improper for a respectable high office bearer  like him to be intimidating people, we think this incites those who are abducting others to continue doing so,” Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general, Japhet Moyo weighed in.

MDC is expected to carry out its planned demonstration tomorrow amid high tensions across the political divide with fears of yet another wave of violent endings.

In January this year, property worth US$ 3 million is estimated to have been destroyed as protests turned violent prompting military intervention. This led to unaccounted number of gross human rights violations, including a wholesale internet shutdown across the country.