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Heads of Civil Society Coalitions


22 January 2019


Press Statement

On the Deteriorating Political and Socio-Economic Situation in Zimbabwe

The Heads of Civil Society Coalitions in Zimbabwe are greatly concerned with the ongoing developments in Zimbabwe which have resulted in the murder of at least 12 people by the state leaving hundreds of people nursing gunshot wounds and other serious violations of their rights and freedoms, namely; freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, right to fair trial, freedom of expression and the media, access to information, destruction of property among others.
We note with great disappointment, that the state instead of addressing this crisis, has resorted to criminalize civil society work and the increased attacks on civil society leaders are deplorable.
Call for Dialogue
On the backdrop of these tragic events, we welcome the calls by many actors for national dialogue. We note the call by President Mnangangwa for national dialogue. There is indeed, need to find lasting and meaningful solutions to the crises confronting the nation.
However, for the process of national dialogue to be effective, sustainable and not merely facade to placate the international community, it is necessary that the national dialogue be truly inclusive. The national dialogue processes should include, political and religious leaders, civil society, diaspora community, and most importantly the victims and families being haunted by the structural and direct violence that is currently afflicting the country.
Other Concerns
The proposed dialogue must acknowledge and chart sustainable solutions to the deep seated problems for Zimbabwe which are rooted in politics and economy.  These are problems whose resolution must not only be left to politicians but must include all sectors of Zimbabwe.
We are concerned about the unprecedented violations to freedom of expression, right of access to information and freedom of the media which has affected the national discourse and will also negatively affect the national dialogue if not addressed. We are also concerned by the number of children detained with adults in violation of local and international standards on the treatment of children in conflict with the law including the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
We call upon the government to respect the due process rights of those arrested and to ensure that the right to a fair trial is respected in accordance with the constitution as well as the international treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Zimbabwe is a state party.
We are gravely concerned that some of the victims are failing to access emergency medical healthcare and that state security agencies are putting some impediments, obstructing the victims from accessing emergency medical health care. This is in direct violation of the victim’s right to healthcare.
We note the targeting of human rights defenders and civil society organisations legitimately carrying out their work. Attacks on human rights defenders do not create a pathway for a conducive national dialogue, and only serve to de-legitimise the government.
We call upon President Mnangagwa to immediately acknowledge the tragic extra-judicial killings of civilians and take steps towards identifying and holding the perpetrators accountable.
In addition, we demand the following from the Government of Zimbabwe:

  1. An immediately end to the de facto state of emergency in the country, and ensure the return of the military personnel to their barracks and the lifting of the curfew imposed in across the country;
  2. A cessation to dragnet arrests and ensure that those arrested are afforded all their constitutional protections;
  3.  Respect for due process and ensuring that judges and magistrates act in accordance with the Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary;
  4. Allow the independent constitutional commissions to conduct their mandate in terms of the Constitution;
  5. Implement the recommendations in the Montlante report and conduct wholesale reform of the security sector to ensure greater accountability.
  6. A return to constitutionalism and rule of law.


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About The Forum

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) is a coalition of twenty-two human rights NGOs in Zimbabwe. The Forum’s activities include transitional justice work, research and documentation, and public interest litigation. Learn more about us.

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