The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) notes the statement from the Working Committee of the National Security Council (WCNSC) of Zimbabwe on the 10th of June 2020, dismissing widespread rumours of an imminent coup d’état in Zimbabwe.
We note some inaccuracies and inconsistencies in their statement and therefore embrace this as a golden opportunity to directly express citizens’ voices and concerns.
Firstly, the holding of the press conference and statement is a confirmation and admittance that the country is in a crisis. We, therefore, contend that any effort to provide solutions to the multi-faceted national crisis should be people-centred and grounded in an all-inclusive, all-stakeholder dialogue. As such a military coup, as has been proven in other jurisdictions, and recently in Zimbabwe in November 2017 will only protect the interests of a few political and security elite at the expense of a sustainable solution.
Secondly, we are deeply worried and concerned that the tone and threats against opposition political activists, citizens’ activists, civil society organisations, churches and other pro-democratic forces, which amounts to a declaration of war on an already burdened and the traumatised citizenry, threatens their security and undermines our collective capacity to address the multi-faceted crisis facing the country, and the economy nearing collapse while souring COVID-19 infections and a growing sense of insecurity.
Thirdly, we are concerned about the shrinking democratic space evidenced by abductions, arrests, persecution by the prosecution of civil society, lawyers and political opponents is inconsistent with Committee’s assertion that Zimbabwe is stable and peaceful. The peacefulness they refer to is negative peace and is not sustainable in an environment of poverty and depravity. The inability of the state to bring to book perpetrators of human rights violations, shootings and abductions have adversely affected citizen’s trust in state institutions responsible for the administration of justice and their security.
Additionally, we note, not only the increase in cases of high-level corruption including high ranking government officials and or their families but also attempts to muzzle and intimidate citizen and media voices raising these issues. Most disturbingly, is the exploitation of a world-wide pandemic to pilferage.
While acknowledging initial pronouncements by the government that it will deal with corruption, we note a waning resolve to contain and arrest corruption and a disturbing affinity to target whistle-blowers and the press.
In the same vein, while acknowledging the importance of international re-engagement and readmission of Zimbabwe into the community of nations, we contend that Zimbabwe needs to re-engage with itself and its citizenry first. This should be done through a rigorous and selfless pursuit of reforms.
More importantly, the ever-deteriorating economic conditions, further worsened by the lockdown have adversely affected the livelihoods of the majority of citizens who largely depend on the informal economy. This has and continues to affect the poorest of our communities without adequate safety nets to mitigate the effects. This has affected access to social services, education health further widening the gap between the rich and poor. We are further concerned about how the lockdown has been abused to close the democratic space and selectively applied by the authorities.
To solve the Crisis as highlighted above we ask the government to;
1) Urgently institute a genuine all-inclusive national dialogue process must involve all stakeholders and a national visioning process that has civil society, government, political parties, business, religious groups and labour unions among other critical stakeholders. The dialogue process should produce a timed roadmap to the demilitarisation of civilian political processes and the restoration of normalcy by focusing on key political, economic and social reforms. In this regard, we call for FULL CONSULTATION of all stakeholders rather than cosmetic processes.
On the Economy:
2) It is imperative to arrest the economic downturn in Zimbabwe based on a clear reform roadmap and implementation of pro-poor and inclusive economic policies. Efforts at economic transformation, stabilisation and growth should be aimed at achieving inclusive sustainable economic growth and development.
On Constitutionalism, Rule of Law, Human Rights and Human Security:
3) The Government of Zimbabwe must uphold and guarantee citizens’ rights as enshrined in the Zimbabwean Constitution, other regional and international human rights treaties and statutes. Full implementation of the country’s constitution is equally important in promoting democracy in Zimbabwe. We, therefore, reject Constitutional Amendment Bill Number 2.
4) The Government of Zimbabwe must respect the fundamental right of access to information, freedom of expression as well as freedom of association.
5) There is a need to immediately operationalise a comprehensive programme on national healing, reconciliation and nation-building that will depolarise society and entrench the respect for diversity, inclusion and tolerance in all facets of life.
6) The army must desist from partisan politics and confine themselves to the barracks. There is an imperative need to de-militarise the Zimbabwean state.