The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) notes with great concern a renewed coordinated campaign by the government of Zimbabwe to further shrink the democratic space through draconian legislation and clampdown on Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) operating in the country.
On October 12, 2020, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, while addressing a ZANU PF meeting, confessed that he was stalking and spying the daily movements of his perceived opponents and critics and further threatened to shut down NGOs that are alleged to be critical to the regime. To add on to this, the Harare administration is speeding up the Patriotic Bill which, if enacted, will impose ‘stiff penalties’ on individuals and organisations ‘campaigning against the country’.
As the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, we view this Patriotic Bill as a desperate attempt to silence political dissent while working against efforts by Civic Society Organisations (CSOs) who have been calling for regional support to press for dialogue to end the multifaceted crisis in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is a signatory to various International Statutes on Human Rights, like the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and it is incumbent upon CSOs to continuously monitor the conformity of the Zimbabwean government to these statutes while updating the international community on rights violations in the country.
We further note with concern that President Mnangagwa’s recent threats against NGOs operating in the country have a potential of fueling further attacks against civic society actors in the country.
If anything, President Mnangagwa’s recent sentiments prove that Zimbabwe, despite promises of a new dispensation, remains stuck in the dark past characterised by gross human rights violations and persecution of civic society and opposition activists.
Army shootings, arbitrary arrests, torture and abductions of civic society and opposition activists have proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the ‘new dispensation’ is seeking to entrench authoritarian rule and a one-party state system of governance.
The Coalition implores the Zimbabwean government to uphold key tenets of democracy as well as to acknowledge the role of civic society in democracy, prosperity and stability.