- Last Updated on 27 November 2012
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The Executive Director of the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), Dr Helen Kijo-Bisimba emphasised the need to push SADC to be transparent and effective in monitoring the forthcoming Zimbabwe election.
She also called for civil society in Tanzania to independently observe and monitor the referendum, draw lessons, and eventually monitor the general election. She said this when she met the joint Zimbabwe and South Africa civil society delegation on Monday 26 November 2012 at the LHRC offices in Dar es Saalam , Tanzania.
LHRC is one of the leading civil society institutions in Tanzania promoting human rights. The meeting with LHRC was a build-up to previous meetings as a way to strengthen regional solidarity as Zimbabwe gears toward a watershed election scheduled for next year.
The joint delegation emphasized the need for LHRC to put pressure on the Tanzania government in partnership with other civil society organizations in Tanzania to ensure that their Honourable government keeps its eyes focused on Zimbabwe's inclusive government so that it can complete the constitution, implement electoral reforms and professionalize the security sector as part of the demands for a free and fair election.
In particular the joint delegation called for SADC to dispatch an early warning team so that they can monitor the situation in Zimbabwe as current developments seem to indicate an emerging trend in political violence, arrests and intimidation; especially those related to sprouting militia groups and other state security institutions. The joint delegation also called for Joint Monitoring Committee ( JOMIC) to be empowered enough to engage, monitor, evaluate, and hold state security institutions to account and for SADC to establish guidelines for conduct of the security sector and political parties before, during and after elections with clear consequences for transgression. On the constitution the delegation highlighted that the constitution making process must be completed as per Article 6 specified in the Global Political Agreement so that the people of Zimbabwe can have a final say through a free and fair referendum.
In response to the presentation, the Director of LHRC said that they [Civil Society in Tanzania] needed the timelines of what is supposed to be done (that is when the referendum and the elections should be held).
"On the constitution and referendum, we want to have a civil society monitoring team led by TACCEO, an organisation that monitors human rights conditions in Tanzania. We can do a monitoring of referendum and publish our reports to SADC', she emphasised.
Dr Kijo- Bisimba indicated that the Tanzania government is not well informed about the political situation. She said
'We will put the information to our government, raising awareness so that they [government] understand from the other side of the coin because they understand the situation from the perspective of the Zimbabwe government'.
Action Support Centre also committed to link up with the organisations in Tanzania so that there can be more coordinated regional solidarity in 2013.
AIPPA is bad. MISA Tanzania Chapter Chairperson says
MISA Tanzania chairperson, Mr Mohamed Tibanyendera, condemned state aggression against the people. In particular, the chairperson condemned Zimbabwe's Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) as the worst law condemned by global activists today.
'AIPPA is very bad because in practice everyone [in Zimbabwe] can end up being in jail', he said.
He further lamented moves by the Tanzania government to reproduce AIPPA and called for civil society organisations in the region 'to have a concrete, thorough and continuous intervention with the people in the armed forces and the police, with the national electoral commissions, with politicians and political parties for the promotion of peace in the region'. The MISA chairperson was responding to a brief from the Zimbabwe and South Africa joint civil society delegation at the MISA offices in Dar es Saalam on Monday 26 November 2012. The delegation include Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Spokesperson, Thabani Nyoni, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Regional Director, Phillan Zamchiya, Women's Coalition Chairperson, Virginia Muwanigwa; MISA-Zimbabwe Director, Nhlahla Ngwenya, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Regional Board Chairperson, Kate Gardner of Action Support Centre, Sipho Theys and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Information Assistant, Maureen Gombakomba
Given that Tanzania is the current SADC Troika Chair with a mandate to monitor the inclusive government and ensure that Zimbabwe holds peaceful, free and fair elections next year. The joint civil society delegation asked MISA Tanzania to continue lobbying the media in Tanzania to keep reporting accurately on the Zimbabwe transition so that the public, government and civil society is kept updated and engaged on the matter especially on the upcoming referendum and elections.
The joint civil society delegation also pleaded with MISA Tanzania to use its influence to pressure the government of Tanzania and SADC to ensure that there is finalisation of the constitution making process in Zimbabwe according to the provisions of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), elimination of state sponsored violence and the creation of a peaceful environment, full implementation of electoral reforms so that Zimbabwe can have a free and fair election that will allow for peaceful transfer of state power, a non-partisan security sector that prioritise the security of persons and transparency in the management of natural resources so that they benefit the majority of Zimbabweans and to avoid diamonds being the breeding ground for conflict in the region.
In the same meeting, South Africa's Action Support Centre (ASC)/ Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum (ZSF) emphasised the importance of regional solidarity in seeking prosperity, peace and democracy not only in Zimbabwe but in other hot spots like DRC, Swaziland and Madagascar. In agreement, the Chairperson of MISA Tanzania said,
"'Long time engagement in advocacy works to strengthen solidarity. This intervention is good; we need to extent the stakeholders. We need to formulate information that can reach out and keep on sharing information. We need to formulate clear messages that will help us. Let us strengthen regional solidarity because it can be done elsewhere to stop governments. We are with you [Zimbabwe] €'.