Zimbabwe has an unknown number of illegal firearms. The regular incidences of armed violence and robberies, sometimes involving deadly clashes between law enforcement agents and criminals are ample proof of this.
Several recent episodes of political violence by Zanu PF militias armed by the state also illustrate this. Evidence shows that Zimbabwe is not taking significant steps to get rid of illegal firearms. The country is also not doing enough to ensure that legally-registered ones are not used to commit crime or to violate human rights. Weak regulation of authorised firearm possession, theft, loss and corrupt sales from official holdings are a major cause for concern . The country’s porous borders also provide fertile opportunities for black market and illicit weapons traffickers.
Zimbabwe has not made any move to sign the 2013 United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (A.T.T.) This is despite the fact that Zimbabwe is an importer and supplier of firearms. Signing the A.T.T. would provide a framework and resources for the country to begin to regulate and take stock of its weapons market. Accountability, registration of weapons and tracking their movements are a hallmark of this treaty. It also requires weapons suppliers to ensure that their supplies are not used to violate human rights in the recipient country.
It is in this context that the MDC calls upon the government of Zimbabwe to sign and ratify the UN Arms Trade Treaty. It is a necessary guarantee that weapons provided to the state by international suppliers are not used to commit violations against civilians.
Issued by Honourable Senator Lilian Timveos, Alternative Minister and MDC Spokesperson for Home Affairs.