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Zimbabwe, the Abuja Agreement and Commonwealth Principles: Compliance or Disregard? | Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum

Zimbabwe, the Abuja Agreement and Commonwealth Principles: Compliance or Disregard?

The report examines obligations upon the Government of Zimbabwe arising from the Abuja Agreement on Zimbabwe, signed in Abuja, Nigeria on 6 September 2001. It examines commitment by the Zimbabwe Government to the Harare Commonwealth Declaration and the Millbrook Commonwealth Action Programme on the Harare Declaration and its compliance with the recommendations of the Marlborough House Statement and the Zimbabwe Mid-Term Review Statement. It is published two years following the signing of the Abuja Agreement and three months before the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting in Nigeria in December 2003 and is intended to provide some clarification with regard to the Zimbabwean crisis and its causes.

The report notes that high levels of human rights violations continue to prevail, some of them consequent on laws such as the Public Order and Security Act. This has been accompanied by the establishment of a culture of impunity presided over by a seemingly partisan police force. State agents have been frequently reported as being perpetrators of human rights violations themselves. There has been continued inter-party violence as a result of political intolerance. Victimisation on the basis of political affiliation remains a common phenomenon.

Elections have, since the Parliamentary Elections in June 2000, been accompanied by organised violence and intimidation. The electorate’s freedom of choice in electing representatives in all these elections has been heavily constrained by victimisation of potential voters on the basis of their political affiliation. There have been reports of supplying food in exchange for votes and the use of retributive force where voters are deemed not to have voted in the expected manner.

The two main political parties in the country have failed to engage in any meaningful dialogue aimed at addressing the Zimbabwe crisis and the political impasse between them as recommended by the Commonwealth. Previous and current Commonwealth, regional and local initiatives to mediate in the process have apparently been met with disdain. The two parties have yet to resume talks since the breakdown of the Commonwealth-led initiative in May 2002, although there have been deliberations by both parties on the conditions for resumption of talks and the nature that these negotiations would assume.

The majority of evidence seems to indicate that the Zimbabwe Government has failed to abide by Commonwealth Principles enshrined in the Harare Declaration, the Millbrook Commonwealth Action Programme on the Harare Declaration, the Abuja Agreement itself and subsequent communiqués in the form of the Marlborough House Statement on Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Mid-Term Review Statement.

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