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Coordinator’s Note: African Union @56…a dream deferred ?

We bring to you here Vol 5, Issue 2 of our flagship publication, the Zimbabwe Briefing, from the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition’s Johannesburg based Regional Information & Advocacy hub. This is a special edition focusing on Africa Day, which we commemorated last month on the 25th of May.

We do apologise for the belated publication, due to circumstances beyond our control. This edition tackles Africa’s achievements since the formation of the then Organisation African Union (O.A.U) in 1963. The special edition take stock on the achievements made by Africa after the attainment of independence from colonial rule and also how the attainment of independence has failed to transform the continent and improve the livelihoods of our people.

Indeed, Africa achieved political independence, but the biggest obstacle remains a continent the attainment of economic independence. Economic freedom remains a pipe dream as the former colonisers are still very much involved in the running of Africa’s economies.

In this special Africa Day edition of the Zimbabwe Briefing scholar Dinizulu Macaphulana observes that: “At the independence of African countries colonialism seems to have changed its name and modified its political structures and economic systems but remained intact and far much stronger than it ever had been. From Ghana to Zimbabwe and from South Africa to South Sudan the ordinary bread eaters and water drinkers of Africa are hostages to poverty, disease, ignorance, fear, pain and historical anxiety. The many black presidents and prime ministers, melodious national anthems and colourful flags that African countries were decorated with after political independence have remained wishful metaphors and aspirational symbols of liberation that is still to be achieved.’’

We are delighted to have more female writers contributing to this special edition, giving their take on the meaning of Africa Day. One of the female writers who requested to use the nom de plume Muzukuru wa Mbuya Nehanda takes us through the gender dynamics within the Zimbabwean crisis. In her well-written piece, she reflects on the lived experiences of Zimbabwean women and their hidden gender dimensions, in particular how the deepening crisis is fast eroding their rights. She quips: “The hidden truth of this crisis is that women in Zimbabwe despite the 38 years of independence and Africa marking 62 years after the coming of first Uhuru (independence of Ghana) they are bearing the brunt of the crisis more. True to Salif Keita’s lyrics, “It is not yet Uhuru”! The struggle continues women of Zimbabwe and Africa.”

Lookout for Tinashe Chimedza’s Africa’s New ‘Radicals’: Notes from Thomas Sankara and Frantz Fanon

Ideologue and Intellectual Takura Zhangazha look at Africa in the Age of Surveillance Capitalism and Neo-Imperialism. He raises fears on the continent’s place in the era of global digital surveillance aided by capitalism. These are some of the highlights to look forward to in this edition and we do hope that some of these incisive ideas will be taken note of as we strive for progress, development and economic independence in our continent.

At this juncture, we are deeply worried about the developments in Sudan where the military is unleashing live ammunition on innocent civilians who are calling for a transitional civilian authority until the elections are held. In this regard, we salute the African Union Peace and Security Council which has with immediate effect suspended the participation of the Republic of Sudan in all AU activities until the effective establishment of a Civilian-led Transitional Authority, as the only way to allow Sudan to exit from the current crisis.

We do hope that the AU will also make swift intervention before the situation deteriorates further.

We also wish to highlight, the disturbing events from Zimbabwe with the shrinking democratic space as the authorities have escalated an onslaught on the civil society. To date seven civil society activists remain in detention on charges of subversion. Also, this week, a group of suspected security agents besieged the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Chairperson, Mr Rashid Mahiya’s residence at around 5 AM. The men spent 30 minutes knocking violently at his door and refused to identify themselves.

Mahiya was arrested in February following the January 2019 clampdown by the state on civil society and labour. He is out on bail and expected to appear in court on the 26th June 2019. The recent attack on Mahiya and his family raise suspicions of an escalation in the clampdown on CSOs as the state alleges that civil society and opposition parties are mooting a coup.

On the 6th of June 2019, about six armed men abducted and brutally assaulted Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure.

As the coalition, we view this as an attempt to muzzle all dissenting voices in the wake of a serious economic meltdown facing Zimbabwe. We condemn this barbaric and cowardly act by the Harare administration.

We, therefore, call upon SADC to reign in on the Harare administration to stop the continued assault on the civil society. We do warn that the political tension and economic meltdown, if left unresolved has a potential to cause regional, political and security instability. We reiterate that an inclusive national conversation with all players led by SADC on Zimbabwe’s future is now an urgent matter. SADC community together with global players must institute discussions on Zimbabwe to address the deteriorating political and economic situation.The country needs a genuinely inclusive dialogue to move forward.

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