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Civil Society moves to bring Tanzania On-side"¦ Ahead of SADC Heads of State Summit

5 Zimbabwean Civil Society leaders undertook a Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition facilitated advocacy mission to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from the 1st to the 4th of August 2012. The delegation, led by The Crisis Coalition Spokesperson Thabani Nyoni, Vice Chairperson Grace Chirenje and representatives from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), MISA-Zimbabwe, and Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ),   held   a series of successful meetings with the media and civil society including   the Media Council of Tanzania, MISA Tanzania, Mwananchi Communications, Independent TV, the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), Tanzania's largest opposition political party CHADEMA and the Tanzania Association of NGOs.

 

The delegation acknowledged the role that Tanzania played during Zimbabwe's liberation struggle, as well as in facilitating the formation of the Government of National Unity in Zimbabwe and the role it continuously plays through SADC (where Tanzania also sits as a member of the SADC Troika on Politics Defense and Security Cooperation).

 

The delegation, highlighted to their Tanzanian contacts and counterparts that, while the signing of the Global Political Agreement had resulted in some peace and stability, to date a number of fundamentals such as removal of oppressive laws, freeing the media, writing of a people driven constitution which leads to a credible election were still to be achieved.   The delegation gave a synopsis of progress made by the Inclusive Government and the outstanding issues that need support before Zimbabwe goes to a credible, free and fair transitional election.

 

'In Zimbabwe we still live under an albatross of repressive and oppressive laws. The media is still muzzled, the constitution making process continues to be stalled by ZANU PF hardliners while violence continues to be unleashed on innocent Citizens by political players who cannot win an election through the ballot but through a well calculated mechanism of intimidation, abductions, torture, arbitrary arrests of activists. Human Rights Defenders who choose to risk their lives in order to defend the innocent also become victims', said Thabani Nyoni, Crisis Coalition Spokesperson.

 

The delegation explained that, Zimbabwe is at the time were it is in need of Tanzania's support through its new role as head of SADC Troika. The delegation emphasised that the Zimbabwean people's demands were aspirations that were no different from those that Tanzania seemed to have achieved where opposition political parties and ordinary citizens have considerable access to government information, and are able to go about their advocacy and activism without any real fear of repression and retribution.

 

The key ask to the people of Tanzania by the delegation was for Tanzania's continued support for the timeous implementation of the   Roadmap to credible, non-violent, free and fair elections in Zimbabwe, including a new constitution that is subjected to a national referendum as agreed to under the Global Political Agreement.

 

The delegation shared its suspicion that the resistance by ZANU PF to public release and discussion of the current COPAC draft was a ploy by the party's hardliners to derail the process, have it abandoned and have the nation go to elections without meaningful reforms having taken place.

 

In addition, the delegation shared concerns around the media situation in Zimbabwe which among other issues is very restricted and controlled by the state as well as presenting a detailed report on the human rights situation in Zimbabwe to its civic society counterparts.

 

The Zimbabwean delegation was also able to do electronic media work in Tanzania, where they were hosted by Mlimani TV & Radio, which   broadcasts nationwide in Tanzania and has a viewership of more than 5million people.

 

However the delegation also learnt with sadness that the media situation in Tanzania is also not rosy, as during the visit, a national newspaper in Tanzania,

MwanaHalisi was banned on allegations that it was threatening the peace and unity of the country. MISA-Tanzania were lobbying through various means like Parliamentarians, ambassadors and also the Prime minister's office to help reverse the ban.

 

Other issues that the delegation raised in its various meetings were that:

 

·  Possibilities of having the Tanzanian   media writing about Zimbabwe, giving the true picture of what is happening in Zimbabwe especially on the two main areas of elections and the referendum on a new constitution.

·  Enhancement of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition's provision of up to date and factual information on Zimbabwe to MISA for distribution in Tanzania.

·  The failure by the Government of National Unity to implement all the agreed reforms at which are key to hosting a free and fair election in Zimbabwe.

·  The possibility of having the Zimbabwean situation and question raised in the Tanzanian parliament as part of the official foreign affairs paper during the month of August.

 

 

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