THE African Union Commission Chairman who is also the former Prime Minister of Chad Moussa Faki Mahamat has urged the government to uphold the rule of law and protect human rights as reports of human rights abuses drew global attention and condemnation last week.
Using the AU Official Website, AU released the following statement from the Chairman’s desk, Addis Abba, Ethiopia: 7 August 2020|
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Moussa Faki Mahamat is following closely political developments in Zimbabwe as the country mounts concerted efforts in response to the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cognisant of the existing harsh socio-economic situation in the country, the Chairperson urges the Zimbabwe authorities to respond to the pandemic ensuring that the national response is premised on human rights as enshrined in the 1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Chairperson is concerned about reports of disproportionate use of force by security forces in enforcing COVID-19 emergency measures. He implores the authorities to exercise restraint in their response to peaceful protests.
The Chairperson further encourages the government of Zimbabwe to uphold the rule of law allowing for freedom of the media, freedom of assembly, freedom of association and the right to information. Violations of these rights are a breach of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the 2007 African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.
In this regard, the Chairperson welcomes the appointment by South African President and current Chair of the Union, HE Cyril Ramaphosa of two special envoys to Zimbabwe, namely former Cabinet Minister Dr Sydney Mufamadi and former Speaker of Parliament Ms Baleka Mbete, both from South Africa.
The Chairperson reaffirms the African Union’s commitment and support to the government and people of Zimbabwe in their endeavour to deepen democracy in the country, in line with the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.
Ms. Ebba Kalondo| Spokesperson, Bureau of the Chairperson | African Union Commission
The statement came a few days before the South African Envoy sent by AU President Cyril Ramaphosa jetted in to meet President Mnangagwa on the issue of Human rights abuses.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has called criticism of human rights abuses by his government “divisive falsehoods” and says his administration is under renewed attack from domestic and foreign opponents.
Mnangagwa, during a Heroes Day speech in Harare, said the allegations were “unjustified attacks by our perennial detractors, both inside and outside our border”.
“The divisive falsehoods and concoctions by renegades and supremacists who want to pounce on our natural resources will never win the day. Truth shall triumph over lies, and good over evil,” said Mnangagwa, who replaced Robert Mugabe after a 2017 coup.
Hopes that Mnangagwa would unite a polarised country and revive a stricken economy following the Mugabe era have been dashed. Like his predecessor, Mnangagwa accuses the West of funding the opposition to destabilise the country.
Human rights groups and lawyers say activists are being arrested, abducted and tortured after they called for street demonstrations on July 31, which the government snuffed out by deploying security forces.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change says about 30 of its members have fled their homes fearing abduction or arrest by state security agents.
The events in Zimbabwe have worried South Africa enough that President Cyril Ramaphosa sent two veteran politicians Sydney Mufamadi and Baleka Mbete to Harare.
The envoys arrived on Monday and were expected to meet Mnangagwa later in the day, a government official said.
Critics also say Mnangagwa is using the cover of a COVID-19 lockdown to silence critics as anger grows over 737 per cent inflation – which has brought back memories of hyperinflation under Mugabe a decade ago – a collapsing health sector and shortage of public transport.
Mnangagwa, however, said his government had set a firm foundation “for a thriving constitutional democracy, and a just, open, accountable and prosperous society”.
(COMPILED BY NEWS AGENCIES)