Zimbabweans want SADC to act

Zimbabweans living in Namibia have pleaded with SADC to intervene in their country, which has been torn by violent protests.

21 January 2019 | International

Zimbabweans living in Windhoek joined an unprecedented wave of protests on Friday when they marched to their embassy in protest against a 150% fuel increase, an internet blackout and widespread human rights violations in their country.

Zimbabweans in Cape Town also took the streets on Thursday, demanding that their consulate remain closed until the crisis in their country is resolved.

The group of protesters in Namibia, led by Tapiwa Mugore, said they were gravely concerned about obstruction of freedom of expression, repression of freedom of assembly and suppression of individual human rights of the people of Zimbabwe.

The march started at Wernhil Park and proceeded to the Zimbabwean embassy.

In a petition read by Luke Hare the protesters strongly condemned their government's use of live ammunition on unarmed people.

Hare urged SADC and the African Union to call an extraordinary meeting to discuss the Zimbabwean situation.

“We have been following the developments in Democratic Republic of Congo and we understand that SADC and AU are asking for a recount. But they did not do the same for Zimbabwe.

“Over two million people of our population do not trust our president. Over two million of our people do not believe that President Emmerson Mnangagwa won the elections of 30 July 2018,” Hare said.

The escalating economic crisis in Zimbabwe has been aggravated by an unprecedented fuel price hike. Prices more than tripled, making them the highest in the world.

On top of that, citizens woke up to an internet shutdown imposed by the government on Tuesday.

One of the protesters, Elisha Chambara, said SADC could no longer bury its head in the sand.

“Right now the general people are suffering, the army is going to people's houses. Door by door. Dragging people, beating them up. And to the extent that the police officers are stealing people's food. They break into people's houses and steal their cooking oil and their bread,” he said.

Chambara said it was just a matter of time before the Zimbabwean people retaliated with weapons.

On Thursday the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum called on President Mnangagwa to return home and lead the nation towards a peaceful resolution of the situation.

It also called on the Zimbabwean government to take measures to restore market confidence and restore sanity to the economy through the implementation of the necessary reforms, and to ensure respect of fundamental human rights for all people, including socio-economic rights that are severely threatened.

According to Chambara the Zimbabwean army under the leadership of the vice-president, General Constantino Chiwenga, is reckless.

The protesters emphasised urged SADC to address the obstruction of freedom of expression, repression of freedom of assembly and human rights violations inside Zimbabwe.

They pleaded with SADC to intervene in the country and address what they called the illegitimate government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

“Say something, SADC. When there is an opportunity to speak for the majority so they can enjoy their freedom like Namibians enjoy their wonderful freedom. The way other Africans enjoy their freedom and you have that opportunity, please say something SADC. History will remember this moment,” said one of the protesters.



WE ARE TIRED: Protesting Zimbabweans in Namibia took to the streets on Friday in a peaceful demonstration demanding and end to the violence in their country. PHOTO: JEMIMA BEUKES

JEMIMA BEUKES

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