The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum is appalled by the conduct of the Government of Zimbabwe which barred the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Professor Manfred Nowak from entering the country. The Special Rapporteur had been invited by the Government of Zimbabwe to conduct an official fact-finding mission from 28 October to 4 November 2009. On arrival at OR Tambo International Airport in South Africa, in transit to Harare, the Special Rapporteur was advised that the Government of Zimbabwe had, on 26 October 2009, postponed the mission stating that it “regrets to advise that due to the previously unanticipated Consultative process currently taking place in Harare involving the Government of National Unity and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Government of Zimbabwe will be unable to receive the Special Rapporteur on the proposed dates.”
Whilst in Johannesburg, the Special Rapporteur was advised that the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, wished to meet him in Harare on 29 October 2009. Pursuant to this invitation, Professor Novak flew to Harare in the evening of 28 October 2009, to meet the Prime Minister. Upon arrival at Harare International Airport the Special Rapporteur was denied entry, detained overnight and deported to South Africa the following morning. The deportation of the Special Rapporteur, together with other retrogressive incidents such as the arrest and detention of NANGO Board Chairperson Dadirai Chikwengo and Chief Executive Officer Cephas Zinhumwe on Sunday, 25 October 2009; the continued persecution and prosecution of human rights defenders like Alec Muchadehama; the arrest in Hwange of ZESN employees, Ndodana and Thulani Ndlovu, and the recurrence of cases of enforced disappearances are all worrying signs that ZANU (PF) is reverting to its culture of human rights abuses. These incidents are reminiscent of the reign of terror that characterised 2008. Of particular concern are increasing reports coming out of the communities that people are being mobilised in a manner similar to the run-up to the 2008 elections, and equally perturbing is the
resurgence and perpetuation of hate messages in the official media. The Forum is concerned that the infrastructure of violence remains intact and nothing is being done to reform state institutions. The abuse of repressive legislation to curtail civil liberties is worryingly on the rise.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum strongly recommends that;-
a. the Government of Zimbabwe complies with its international obligations by allowing the Special Rapporteur back into the country and take all necessary steps to ensure that he is able to conduct his mission.
b. the SADC Troika meeting in Harare takes strong measures, as the guarantors of the Global Political Agreement, to ensure that all outstanding issues are resolved in compliance with the letter and spirit of the Agreement and in so doing end the disagreement between ZANU (PF) and the MDC, and
c. the international community vigilantly monitors the developments that are taking place in Zimbabwe which threaten to plunge the country into anarchy if they continue unchecked.