By Jennifer M. Haralambides
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
Zimbabwe – Human Rights Watch has issued a report declaring that South African leaders need to press Zimbabwe’s power-sharing government to end the ongoing human rights violations and to implement legal reforms.
This report, titled “False Dawn: The Zimbabwe Power-Sharing Government’s Failure to Deliver Human Rights Improvements,” focuses on the new government’s lack of progress in the many areas of human rights where reform is needed.
More than six months after the formation of a transitional, power-sharing government in Zimbabwe between the Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), there has been little progress in instituting any promised human rights reforms and in demonstrating respect for the rule of law.
Human Rights Watch reports that his transitional government has demonstrated a lack of political will to create change. Police, prosecuting authorities, and court officials who are aligned with ZANU-PF continue to conduct politically motivated prosecutions of MDC legislators and activists. MDC is the former opposition party and is now a partner in the government.
Local sources say that President Zuma, who was inaugurated six months ago, has failed to satisfy the expectations of both the public and the politicians alike because no agreements have been reached from the negotiations between President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF and the two MDC’s led by Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.
“Southern African leaders should stop looking at Zimbabwe through rose-colored glasses…The region’s leaders need to press Zimbabwe openly and publicly for human rights reforms to prevent the country from backsliding into state-sponsored violence and chaos,” said Georgette Gagnon, the Africa director at Human Rights Watch (HRW).
In order to fulfill the demands of human rights groups, heads of state from members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are holding a summit meeting in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, on September 7th, 2009. At the summit meeting they are exptected to assess Zimbabwe’s compliance with a number of rulings by the SADC Tribunal on illegal actions. President Zuma of South Africa, SADC’s current chairman, is also expected to update leaders on the progress made by the power-sharing government.
“Without these necessary changes, Zimbabwe’s inclusive government will continue to be built on sand,” says Gagnon.
The HWR report recommends a range of fundamental reforms that the power-sharing government should undertake to improve the human rights situation in Zimbabwe.
For more information, please see:
Human Rights Watch – False Dawn: The Zimbabwe Power-Sharing Government’s Failure to Deliver Human Rights Improvements – 31 August 2009
Reuters – SADC: Press Zimbabwe to Implement Human Rights Reforms – 31 August 2009
The Zimbabwe Times – Mutambara is Correct on Zuma’s Role – 31 August 2009