19 DECEMBER 2012
Johannesburg, South Africa,
JOINT CIVIL SOCIETY STATEMENT ON THE END OF YEAR ASSESSMENT OF THE GPA IMPLEMENTATION IN ZIMBABWE
As the year draws to an end, we find it pertinent to commend the three political parties in the GPA, SADC , AU and the international community for having made some progress in ensuring that the GPA is implemented in letter and spirit so that Zimbabwe can hold a credible, indisputable, free and fair election.
We would like to thank the SADC Troika on Peace, Defence and Security for its undeterred efforts towards ensuring the full implementation of the electoral road map and its unparalled commitment in resolving the current constitutional reform gridlock in Zimbabwe. We also take note of the SADC Troika's recent resolution on Zimbabwe which was made in Tanzania where the inclusive government of Zimbabwe was encouraged to implement requisite reforms before holding elections.
SADC member states continue to play a pivotal role in collectively making decisions that will help Zimbabwe transit to a democracy. The role by the SADC citizens in offering solidarity to distressed brothers and sisters in the region cannot be underestimated while their efforts have gone a long way in keeping their governments on check particularly on issues that have a bearing on the future of Zimbabwe.
As Zimbabweans, we continue to find solace and respite in the support we receive from the international community. We are cognisant of the role that the international community continues to play in providing humanitarian and developmental assistance to the people of Zimbabwe. We also want to pay homage to their unrivalled efforts in putting pressure on the inclusive government of Zimbabwe to fully implement the GPA and hold free and fair elections.
We would like to salute the people of Zimbabwe for their resilience towards resolving the current crisis and efforts they continue to make towards the democratisation of our country. We commend the inclusive government for their efforts towards instituting reforms as dictated by the GPA. The conclusion of the Electoral Amendment Act and the putting in place of the legal framework for the full functioning of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission is commendable. We feel that this is the right direction for our country.
However, it is important to state as civil society that we are not pleased with the snail pace towards the conclusion of the constitution making process and the reluctance by the parties in the inclusive government to fully implement reforms which are a critical ingredient towards the holding of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. We reiterate our position that Zimbabwe cannot hold elections without key reforms that are necessary in ensuring that citizens can express themselves freely and choose a leader of their choice without undue influence.
We consider the recent unwarranted announcement by the Minister of Media, Information and Publicity, Webster Shamu that there is need to further regulate social media and the media in general as unfortunate and only reflects the unwillingness by other players in the inclusive government to effect critical reforms such as media freedom, plurality and diversity.
The ZANU PF 13th National People's Conference resolution (k) made in Gweru which reiterates the attempt to ban CSOs players such as Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, ZIMRIGHTS, Bulawayo Agenda and many others proves beyond any reasonable doubt that ZANU PF as a party is failing to appreciate the role of Civil society in a democracy which is to be a watchdog of the State and that such statements are irresponsible and should be condemned. The sustained raids, harassment and arrest of civil society organisations and leaders are evidential to the shrinking civil society operating space. The recent police raid of the Counselling Services Unit (CSU) Secretariat and ZIMRIGHTS, which culminated in the arrest of Leo Chamahwinya, one of ZIMRIGHTS' senior staff members, does not paint a good image for our country. We are perturbed that the police and security agents in Zimbabwe have made the harassment and arrest of civil society leaders their pastime in recent months since they launched a clampdown on non-governmental organisations in February. We urge the State especially the police to exercise restraint and work towards opening up space for other non-state actors and instigate institutional professionalization of the police and other security apparatus as provided for in Article X111 of the GPA. It would be prudent particularly for the police to understand and fully appreciate their roles and duties in a democratic system and strictly observe the principles of the Rule of Law, remain non-partisan and impartial.
As we move towards 2013, we are beaming with confidence that the period ahead is going to be decisive for our country and will be definitive in determining the democraticness of Zimbabwe in future. We reiterate that the following reforms should be implemented before the holding of an election in Zimbabwe:
1) Expeditious finalisation of the constitution making process according to the provisions of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) so that Zimbabweans can decide on the draft constitution presented by COPAC in a referendum.
2) Elimination of State sponsored violence and the creation of a peaceful environment.
3) Disbanding of all violence related militia groups such as Chipangano and Al Shabab
4) Immediate cessation of raids and harassment of civil society organisations and other pro- democracy movements
5) Immediate release of all political prisoners who are in prison on trumped up charges
6) Full implementation of electoral reforms which will pave way for the holding of a free and fair election in Zimbabwe and peaceful transfer of State power
7) A non-partisan security sector that prioritises the security and safety of citizens and restricts itself to the barracks
8) Transparency in the management of natural resources so that they benefit the majority of Zimbabweans. The control of diamonds by the military elite breeds ground for funding conflict not only in Zimbabwe but to our neighbours. In view of the lapse of the Kimberley Process Kinshasa compliance work plan on Zimbabwe, we call for transparency and accountability in the diamond industry and the realisation of maximum beneficiation by the people of Zimbabwe.
Without the support from our neighbouring countries and SADC as a whole, Zimbabwe alone cannot resolve the current social, economic and political nemesis and we call upon SADC and the AU to continuously be seized with the Zimbabwe question and ensure full implementation of the GPA before the next election. We call for the international community to continuously support the people of Zimbabwe. We also want to thank both the local, regional and international media for keeping the Zimbabwe question on the international radar. We are alive to the fact that without you, we would not achieve what we have accomplished today.
We wish you all a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
God Bless Zimbabwe