SADC breaks silence on Zim

The regional grouping has described the protests in Zimbabwe as 'an effort to destabilise the country'.

12 February 2019 | International

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has finally made a statement on the situation in Zimbabwe, which is experiencing a crumbling economy, human rights violations and political turmoil.

In a statement issued on Monday, SADC chair and Namibian head of state Hage Geingob concurred with the Zimbabwean government that its decision to increase fuel prices was done in an effort to address the economic problems in that country.

According to Geingob it was unfortunate that “violent demonstrations rode on the back of increase in fuel prices in an effort to destabilise the country”.

“The demonstrations resulted in the destruction of property and loss of life. SADC condemns in the strongest terms the violence that ensued, and expresses sympathy with the affected families for the loss of their loved ones and their property,” he said.

SADC has come under fire for failing to address the political and social crisis in Zimbabwe that was sparked by a major hike in petrol prices and now has escalated to disaster levels.

In February, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam International appealed to Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa to take concrete and effective action to address the deteriorating human rights situation and increasing risk of a humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.

“We are seriously concerned about the escalating crackdown by your government on human rights defenders, civil society activists, labour and opposition leaders and members and Zimbabweans protesting the recent fuel price increase,” the organisations wrote.

“We have observed with concern a pattern of suppression of dissenting voices in Zimbabwe. On 1 August 2018, seven people were killed after the deployment of the military during post-election protests. To date, those responsible for the killings have not been brought to justice,” the letter stated.

Al Jazeera reported that over 100 people have been admitted to hospitals across the country with gunshot wounds.



Sanctions

SADC also called on the international community to unconditionally lift all sanctions against Zimbabwe, saying the “illegal” sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe in the early 2000s had negatively affected the country.

This follows a plea at the World Economic Forum (WEF) by South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, who said his country favoured the lifting or easing of international sanctions on Zimbabwe.

According to Ramaphosa Zimbabwe faces “serious, serious, economic challenges” and they can be assisted by the world if the sanctions are lifted.

“The SADC heads of state and government further noted that the government's efforts to transform the economy and bring about prosperity to the people of Zimbabwe are negatively affected by the illegal sanctions that were imposed on the country since the early 2000s.

“SADC expresses its solidarity with the government and the people of Zimbabwe. The SADC heads of state and government also noted that the government has commenced dialogue with all stakeholders in the country with a view to strengthening economic transformation and calls upon all stakeholders to support the process,” Ramaphosa said.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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