|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
The current sanctions include a travel ban on senior government figures, but France has asked Mr Mugabe attend a Franco-African summit in Paris next month, an invitation which has angered several countries.
France says EU sanctions against Zimbabwe still allow officials to attend meetings in Europe if there is a focus on human rights and democracy.
The EU travel ban, along with a freeze on Mr Mugabe's assets, was imposed last February as violence flared in the run-up to a presidential election which was later widely condemned as unfair.
Britain is one of several countries which want to keep Mr Mugabe out, but there are fears that if the Zimbabwean leader is prevented from travelling to Paris, France will allow the entire sanctions regime to lapse, says the BBC's Brussels correspondent, Chris Morris.
France argues other African nations would boycott the summit if Mr Mugabe is not invited.
There were already concerns about Mr Mugabe attending an EU-Africa summit in April before the latest dilemma arose.
This had led to some EU members seeking a compromise that would have seen Zimbabwe's Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge attend the summit in Lisbon in his place - although the minister would also need a travel waiver.
On the day that the chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix is due to present his report to the Security Council, the ministers will also try to find some common ground on policy towards Iraq.
There will be a separate meeting in Brussels involving Britain, France, Germany and Spain, which all currently sit on the UN Security Council.
They are expected to give strong public support to the UN weapons inspectors, but on the issue of whether and when to follow Washington to war, the EU is as divided as ever, says our correspondent.
The MDC views with concern the rising cases of torture perpetrated by the unpopular Zanu PF regime on our MPs, councillors, party officials and activists.
We call upon the regime to desist forthwith its dastardly actions, all designed to cow the people and destroy the MDC. For the past three years, the regime has implemented a sustained campaign of brutality against our officials and the population at large.
Our leaders are arrested often on trumped up charges in order to torture them. A number of MDC party functionaries have been tortured and subsequently died as a result. Just recently Stephen Chasara and Davies Mtetwa both members of the Chitungwiza MDC executive died within three months of each other as a result of the torture inflicted upon them while in police custody.
Hundreds of others have suffered the same fate since the formation of our party in September 1999.
The record speaks for itself. The High Court has in a number of cases established the widespread use of violence, torture and intimidation of MDC officials before and after the 2000 parliamentary. The Court nullified the results in seven constituencies for that, and other reasons.
The latest examples of tortured officials include Abednico Bhebe, MP for Nkayi, Job Sikhala, MP for the St Marys in Chitungwiza; Paurina Mpariwa, MP for Mufakose in Harare; Paul Madzore MP for Glen View, also in Harare. They are among 1 060 activists who were tortured between January and November last year. Many go unreported. You will also recall the case of Justin Mutendadzamera and his family in Mabvuku, Harare. They were brutally tortured by the police and the army.
Another 227, including women and young boys and girls, were abducted and beaten, 111 unlawfully detained, 170 were simply picked up in the middle of the night by the police, tortured and were later released without charge.
Torture is a crime against humanity.
From 1 January 2002 to 30 November 2002, violence monitors and human rights groups recorded 30 murders throughout the country. There were nine attempted murders. The majority of the victims were members of the opposition. Police have shown no interest in their cases and as a result there has not been any arrests or prosecutions.
Against this background, it sickening to hear the Mugabe regime’s latest announcement that the police have set up a team to investigate the latest case involving Honourable Job Sikhala.
We demand a judicial commission of inquiry into torture in Zimbabwe. We believe such a commission should chaired by Judge, preferably a retired Judge.
The commission must hear public testimonies from survivors of state-sanctioned torture. The majority are willing to come forward and tell their stories.
The commission must make recommendations on the basis of the full disclosure of the state of decay in the law enforcement system in this country.
Torture has become the order of the day. The levels are deepening as the regime’s fascist programme entrenches itself. People are being tortured systematically. Torture is being carried out with impunity against the opposition at all levels every where, from Muzarabani to Binga, right through to Harare and Bulawayo.
The latest, so-called police investigation is an attempt to cover up the serious human rights abuses being committed on the people of Zimbabwe through torture.
The scheme is so deep that only a judicial commission of inquiry can get to the bottom of the matter.
Some members of our partisan police force have become a major part of the deteriorating security problem in this country. They are openly brutalising their brothers and sisters in the defence of collapsing regime.
The police are also known to be working together with Zanu PF militias and the so-called war veterans to brutalise the people, especially members of the MDC.
Whenever there is a by-election anywhere in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe deploys rowdy elements of his party in the various constituencies. They set up what they call their bases where the prime activity is to abduct and torture opposition activists, with the blessing of the police. This happens in broad daylight under the direction of the CIO and military intelligence operatives.
We know of the inhuman and brutal torture tactics of police officers Dhliwayo, Sikova, Masvimbo, Mavangira, Mutema, Mathema, Makedenge, Dowa, Maranji, Jowa, Chogugudza, Masvongo, Mabunda, Musariri, Muchaonyererwa, Moyo, Khumalo, Detete, Kawasekera, Ngirande, Sibanda, Mukoki, Mashavave, Tsvarai, Spencer Nyatsine and many others. In fact, we have a comprehensive list of all the brutes in our midst.
Together with known officers from the military intelligence, the CIO and Support Unit, police officers in Harare, Bulawayo and many other towns and cities are leading the torture programme against the opposition. You have all heard of Joseph Mwale in Manicaland.
Our message to them is that we know you very well. We appeal to your friends, your close relatives and families to restrain you. You must guard against your continued abuse by a dying regime. Think about the future.