Attention: The SADC Chairperson, H.E President Hage Geingob
cc: All SADC Heads of State & Government
30 October 2018
REF: STATE OF AFFAIRS IN ZIMBABWE AND A CALL FOR YOUR URGENT ATTENTION
Your Excellency, we wish to thank you for accepting our request to meet with you and present the current situation unfolding in Zimbabwe.
We seek to share the state of affairs in our country with the hope that SADC as the regional body will take our issues as a matter of urgency.
This engagement is a continuation of our efforts in trying to address the challenges that are bedevilling our country.
In May this year, we engaged the SADC Secretariat in Botswana where we briefed the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security by commending the peaceful environment ahead of the 2018 July 30 election and equally shared our concerns on the political environment and processes preceding the elections.
We also participated at the SADC People’s Summit held at the Windhoek Show Grounds in Namibia from 16 - 17 August 2018 which raised concerns over the situation in Zimbabwe and in particular military involvement in civilian politics which has a potential to deny citizens their right to determine governance and election outcomes through democratic processes.
Conversely, our coming here is also motivated by our engagements and broader consultations as a collective body of civil society organisations representing the different clusters of civil society who recommended that we take these issues to you in your capacity as the Chairperson of SADC.
State of Affairs
We are coming here three months after the holding of our harmonised elections held eight months after the removal of former President, Robert Mugabe through a military intervention named “Operation Restore Legacy.”
It is our view that the democratic process in Zimbabwe must conform to the values and principles of SADC which are: “Promotion, consolidation and maintenance of democracy, peace and security.’’
Equally, the statutes of SADC are clear as espoused by Article 4 of the SADC Treaty which states that member states are guided by the following principles:
(i) Solidarity, peace and security;
(ii) Human rights, democracy and the rule of law;
(iii) Peaceful settlement of disputes.
In light of this, we remain guided by these set principles and guidelines and we believe that the military operation of November 17, 2017 was therefore an alien practise in the SADC community.
Military interventions are a threat to democracy and economic development within the region and the Zimbabwean scenario set a wrong precedence hence the need for security sector reforms.
We need to bring it to your attention, Your Excellency that Zimbabwe made some progress around reforming the electoral field we remain concerned that there was heavy involvement of the military which had captured key state institutions.
We note, however, that the November 2017 military intervention and events that followed are as a result of the unfinished business brought by the Global Political Agreement of 2008 which was facilitated by SADC. However, we acknowledge that the Global Political Agreement was a step forward as it yielded a progressive constitution for Zimbabwe.
This brief seeks to draw your attention to the urgent need for SADC to assist Zimbabwe realise its potential by addressing the political and economic challenges currently facing the country.
Over the past 20 years, Zimbabwe has been facing a prolonged political and economic crisis. Violations of human rights and the collapse of the economy have resulted in the millions of citizens seeking refuge in neighbouring countries and beyond.
We fear that if the situation continues unchecked, there are greater chances of social unrest and instability in Zimbabwe.
We bring to your attention the following:
1. Zimbabwe has not fully implemented the 2013 Constitution. The implementation of the constitution has been slow and there is limited movement in repealing repressive legislation which is in conflict with the constitution. Society continues to call for security sector and media reforms and the non-implementation of recommendations by the SADC Election Observer Mission to facilitate for diaspora voting.
2. There is a perpetual economic meltdown which has resulted in high levels of inflation and an increase in domestic debt which has compromised the government’s capacity for the provision of social services. If left unresolved this has economic, social and security effects at a regional level. We however acknowledge efforts at attracting foreign and local investments.
3. The Zimbabwean society is heavily divided and polarised and there is huge trust deficit characterised by a perpetuation of political polarisation in post-election period.
4. Military involvement in civilian processes. The events of August 01, 2018 in which the military shot 7 unarmed civilians in the full glare of both regional and international media is evidence of the above.
5. The media particularly the state-controlled media continues to be partial perpetuating divisions in society. The SADC Election Observer Mission noted in their preliminary report on the 2018 elections in Zimbabwe that “the public broadcaster and the State-owned newspapers were in favour of one political party, contrary to the relevant provisions of the Constitution, the Electoral Act, and the Revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, which requires State-owned media to be impartial.’’
6. That while Zimbabwe is a signatory to both the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections and the African Charter on Democracy and Elections, there is limited movement in domesticating and implementing these protocols. We fear that the next elections will be held under undemocratic conditions if this is not addressed.
Based on the above background, which should be understood in the context of the ongoing political and economic crisis bedevilling the country, we propose the following urgent interventions:
1) That SADC should consider supporting an internal and inclusive stakeholders’ dialogue in Zimbabwe. It is our conviction that the dialogue process must involve all stakeholders and a national visioning process that has civil society, government, political parties, business, religious groups and labour unions among other critical stakeholders on board. The national dialogue should seek to realise the foundational values and vision of SADC in creating a Common Future, a future within a regional community that will ensure economic well-being, improvement of the standards of living and quality of life, freedom and social justice and peace and security for the people of Southern Africa.
2) SADC should promote and support efforts at arresting the economic downturn in Zimbabwe and encourage Zimbabwe to adopt and implement pro-poor inclusive economic development policies. Efforts at economic transformation, stabilisation and growth should meet the expectations of the SADC objective of achieving sustained ‘Economic Growth and Sustainable Development so that people in the region have better living standards and employment opportunities.’
3) SADC in its endeavour to promote democratic principles in the region, should encourage the Government of Zimbabwe to uphold and guarantee citizens’ rights as enshrined in the Zimbabwean Constitution and other regional and international human rights treaties and statutes. SADC should encourage Zimbabwe to fulfil its obligations as spelt out in the SADC Treaty which designates “solidarity, peace and security; respect for human rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law and peaceful settlement of disputes” as its founding principles.
4) The SADC community in line with its objective of ensuring a democratic ad economically developed region should institute discussions on the situation in Zimbabwe and develop a political and economic rescue package that is predicated on democratic progress.
It is our sincere hope that the issues shared, through this brief will be given urgency.