The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition would like to call upon the African leaders attending the 25th African Union (AU) ordinary session of Heads of State and Government to provide good and exemplary leadership in bringing lasting solutions to problems bedeviling the African continent.
The AU through its leadership must take heed of early warnings in order to prevent escalation of conflict and instability in potential hotspots within the continent. As Civil Society we applaud efforts by the AU in bringing peace and stability in Mali, Libya, Central African Republic, DRC and Madagascar. We note the challenges in Burundi, Lesotho and Swaziland and urge action to resolve the same.
On Zimbabwe, we feel that much could be done to pre-empt possible implosion. We strongly believe that the Inclusive Government formed in Zimbabwe in 2009 as a result of the AU resolution made in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt in 2008 did not yield a free and fair election and hence the continued political and economic impasse. The democratic reforms, which were supposed to usher in a new era were not implemented in full thereby rendering the July 31, 2013 election a farce. The AU has an opportunity to revisit such shortcomings and begin to provide leadership without fear or favor.
We strongly and unequivocally feel that under the leadership of Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, the AU has proved a distinct failure to systematically and proactively confront the multitude of woes afflicting African people.
By the time the AU Heads of State conclude their deliberations, Zimbabwean abducted activist, Itai Dzamara, would have been missing for almost 100 days. Despite repeated appeals and court orders, president Mugabe’s government has shown total disregard for Dzamara, his family and all who have called for his immediate safe return.
In Zimbabwe, president Mugabe’s Government has also threatened to deploy the army into the streets of Harare to execute a brutal and unashamed clean-up exercise reminiscent of the 2005 winter Operation Murambatsvina (Clean-Up), which rendered millions of Zimbabweans homeless and was recorded as one of the worst cases of Human Rights abuse in the country. The vendors, who have been given a 26 June 2015 ultimatum to vacate the streets of Harare are unfortunately victims of a failed leadership in a society riddled with high unemployment, lack of infrastructure development and continued collapse of basic social services.
The continuous deployment of brute force as a way of dealing with citizens’ genuine grievances signifies the extent to which president Mugabe, aged 91, is out of touch with the myriad of challenges in his own country. Quite remarkably, it also proves the failure by his government to provide clear and tangible solutions to an economy battered and bruised by policy ambiguity, policy inconsistency and lack of imagination.
The results have been devastating.
Many Zimbabweans, left with no choice and no hope, have been forced to flee their country, opting rather to live in squalor, to be further stripped of their dignity and to expose themselves to various other life-threatening situations. The recent flares of xenophobic violence in South Africa saw thousands of Zimbabweans, including other African migrants, suffer at the hands those whom they believed empathised with their situation.
While we commend the South African government, and president Jacob Zuma in particular, for acting swiftly and decisively during the outbreak of violence, we urge him to insist on a culture of good governance in other African countries. Most Zimbabwean migrants are not in South Africa by choice. Rather, they have been pushed out of their countries by various factors, of which bad governance is prominent.
Hence, for AU Heads of State like president Mugabe to meet in the plush Sandton district and pretend to possess solutions to problems they have created themselves is not only hypocritical but, in actual fact, becomes the embodiment and endorsement of unaccountable leadership and impunity.
Surely, Africa can do better.
Therefore, if the famed African Union Agenda 2063 is to become a reality, then the AU itself must begin to show progressive leadership and demand accountability from its own. Otherwise we risk developing yet another framework come 2063 when it becomes apparent that nothing has been achieved.
The occasion of the AU Heads of Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa presents the continental body with yet another opportunity to redeem itself and prove that it is on the side of the African people; that it values the dignity of African people; that it pursues Justice for the African people; and that it listens to the people of Africa.
As Chairperson of the African Union, president Mugabe has a particular duty to prove us wrong that there is no leadership deficit in Africa and at AU level. We restate the following as the Heads of State meet over the weekend:
The AU must strengthen its peer review mechanism, which we believe can be an entry point to attending to challenges affecting Zimbabwe and other countries in the continent. There is no doubt that the Government of Zimbabwe must be forced to speak to its citizens and broader political society to find a common national vision.
The AU must condemn the Xenophobic attacks in South Africa and must insist on clear and visible steps by South Africa that will prevent the outbreak of this violence in the future. In the same breadth, the African leaders must have an honest discussion about the need to ensure that political and economic conditions in individual countries such as Zimbabwe do not unnecessarily push out citizens who end up being subject to such brutal attacks as they seek sanctuary in other African states.
Issued by: Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
1. Mr. Mfundo Mlilo, Spokesperson, Mobile: +263 772 127 397
2. Mr. Joy Mabenge, Regional Coordinator, Mobile: +27 79 558 4683