Nigeria

AUC, ITUC-Africa Urge Zimbabwean Govt To Protect Human Rights Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

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.

A statement by Ms. Ebba Kalondo, the spokesperson, Bureau of the Chairperson, African Union Commission, said taking 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 statement read.

It stated further that “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 therefore reaffirmed 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.

Whilst welcoming and applauding the developments by the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) to Zimbabwe urging the Harare government to respect civil liberties, the Deputy General Secretary of the ITUC-Africa, comrade Akhator Joel Odigie stated that such action from the AU is followed up by effective monitoring to ensure compliance. He noted that it is indeed a breath of fresh air to see the AU demonstrating her commitment to moving away from the AU of Heads of states to the AU of citizens.

Explaining further on the situation in Zimbabwe, comrade Akhator Joel Odigie informed the Zimbabwean government equates dissent and opposition to terrorism and treason. Currently, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and some civil society organisations have been labelled trojan horses of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) by the ruling The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF). This aversion and disdain for constructive opposition are unacceptable he quipped. On how the situation can be improved, he opined that accountability must continue to be the norm and tool to defeat impunity and arbitrary power.

He equally appreciated 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 people of Zimbabwe must be supported to get out of their current crisis.

Also,  ITUC-Africa General Secretary, Kwasi Adu-Amankwah in a letter to the Zimbabwean President ITUC-Africa expressed deep concerns about the continuing loss of space for free expression and peaceful protest in Zimbabwe.

We described as unacceptable the recent labelling of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions as a terrorist organisation by the ZANU-PF, the ruling party of Zimbabwe.

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