Civil society calls for democratic principles in Zim

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WINDHOEK – A Civil society group has called on President Hage Geingob who is the Chairperson of SADC to call for dialogue between the major political parties and all interested parties with the aim of de-escalating tension in Zimbabwe.

A Zimbabwean civil society called Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition paid a courtesy visit to Geingob as SADC head at State House yesterday to brief him and seek his intervention in the state of affairs in that country as a matter of urgency.
The pressure group is coming to Namibia three months after the holding of Zimbabwe’s elections held eight months after the removal of former President Robert Mugabe through a military intervention named, “Operation restore legacy.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa won the elections.

The Coalition’s Chairperson Rashid Mahiya told Geingob the military’s involvement into the civilian affairs has no place in modern day democracy and it betrays the value and principles of SADC which are to promote, consolidate and maintain democracy, peace and security.

They feel military interventions are a hazard in the region and the Zimbabwean scenario set a wrong precedence and thus they have always called for security sector reforms to undo the militarisation of civilian and electoral politics in Zimbabwe.
“As a result, the country went for elections under heavy involvement of the military which had embedded itself in key state institutions, the election itself was conducted in a highly polarised environment without key reforms being addressed. This brief, however, seeks to draw your attention to the urgent need for SADC to assist Zimbabwe address the political and economic challenges currently facing the country,” Mahiya noted. He went on to say the Zimbabwean society is heavily divided and polarised, adding there is huge trust deficit, characterised by a perpetuation of political polarisation even in post-election period.

Equally, he said there is an unfolding economic meltdown, which has witnessed high levels of inflation, an increase in the domestic debt, which has compromised the government’s capacity for the provision of social services.

If left unresolved, he says this has regional economic, social and security effects. The group called for restoration of constitutionalism and implementation of the Constitution and repressive legislation which is contrary to the Constitution should be repealed. Here they called for key reforms like security sector, the media and the recommendations by the SADC election observer mission to facilitate for diaspora voting.

“The media, particularly the state-controlled media continues to be one sided, giving favourable coverage to the ruling party,” he maintained. 

Geingob responded that elections in Zimbabwe were declared free and fair, hence called on the civil society group to talk to the opposition to accept the elections.

“Elections were held, no elections are perfect. There was a dispute. It was in the courts and the court ruled and the current President is now President. It will be good that you also do not take sides. Talk to the opposition and see how best you can solve problems. Here in Namibia too, they say the same thing that our government is failing,” Geingob said.

He said some of the issues raised are common to many SADC member states especially the economic hardships where commodity prices have gone down, but urged people to dialogue and find lasting solutions. Geingob called on SADC member states to provide a conducive business environment for investors. Regarding the freedom of the media, Geingob said Zimbabwe’s press is more advanced that Namibia’s.

“In a sense that you have journalists who are educated. Who have degrees and so on. If you look at their writing of English, you have journalists who disagree with everything but they write and you enjoy it,” he jokingly said.