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CHOGM CALLS FOR GENUINE DEMOCRATIC REFORMS IN ZIMBABWE

CHOGM CALLS FOR GENUINE DEMOCRATIC REFORMS IN ZIMBABWE

The recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which was opened on Friday the 28th of October 2011 and ended on the 30th in Perth, Australia has maintained that until genuine democracy through transparent electoral processes is restored, Zimbabwe would remain suspended from the body. It reiterated that the Commonwealth is ready to re-engage Zimbabwe only if the government of Zimbabwe introduces democratic reforms, uphold human rights and bring an end to politically motivated violence which has taken precedence in the country.

It's over two years since the consummation of the inclusive government in February 2009 and Zimbabwe is still lagging behind in implementing genuine democratic reforms. Citizens are continually subjected to intimidation, violence and torture while their freedoms have been drastically curtailed. Recently the Electoral Amendment Bill public hearings which were held across the country were characterised by violence and intimidation.

Journalists and media practitioners continually face arbitrary arrests and victimisation under the country's repressive media laws whilst the responsible Minister has become more of a Minister of entertainment by ignoring these issues and choosing to concentrate on producing praise songs for Mugabe, representing ZANU PF at live music shows and trying to boost the party's political mileage by frequenting apostolic church gatherings and celebrity funerals.

Earlier this year, police arrested a total of 28 MDC members falsely accusing them of murdering a police officer in Glen View. Police Inspector Petros Mutedza was killed by unknown revellers in a local nightclub in Glenview in May this year. This is despite evidence that many of them were not even in the crime vicinity on the day in question. Eight out of the 28 MDC members arrested for the incident are still languishing in remand prison while the police and the Attorney General's office continue to drag their feet on the case.

In yet another case, Munyaradzi Gwisai, a former MDC parliamentarian and Coordinator of the International Socialist Organisation (ISO) Zimbabwe Chapter, was arrested with 44 other human rights defenders at a gathering at Cross Roads House in Harare and charged with treason. The 45 were attending an academic discussion under the theme "Revolt in Egypt and Tunisia. What lessons can be learnt by Zimbabwe and Africa.

Just yesterday 36 police officers stormed the MDC Headquarters, for unknown reasons causing mayhem in town as they allegedly threw teargas and assaulted people. The policemen also blocked Nelson Mandela Avenue to traffic and members of the public armed with button sticks and AK 47 rifles. Barely a week before, the police had blocked and disrupted MDC-T rallies and meetings in Victoria Falls and Hatcliffe. It is alleged that the police's appearance at the MDC-T rallies was not motivated by the need to maintain order but to allegedly complement ZANU PF thugs' efforts in disrupting and perpetrating violence at MDC rallies and meetings.

Zimbabwe has not been taking part in Commonwealth activities after ZANU PF, the then ruling party, unilaterally pulled the country from the grouping on 7th December 2003 following the government-sponsored violent invasion of farms by war veterans in 2000. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group and Zimbabwe agreed had that the Zimbabwean government would stop the violence on farms, prevent further invasions, uphold human rights and stop suppressing dissent voices.

The Coalition implores the inclusive government to ensure that credible democratic and electoral reforms are put in place before elections. The Coalition further condemns state sponsored violence and intimidation and calls for the police to act professionally and fulfil their constitutional mandate.

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