Civil Society Joint Statement on the heightening crisis in Zimbabwe

We the undersigned Zimbabwean civil society organisations stand in total solidarity with the working people of Zimbabwe, civil servants, the informal traders, vendors, cross border traders and the millions of suffering and impoverished masses during this darkest hour of State failure in the history of the country.

The past few months have been particularly eventful and historic for Zimbabwe as they have seen the economic recession sink deeper with cash shortages and a striking fall in government revenue being the most striking feature.

In addition to the economic collapse, elite greed and naked corruption by the top leadership of government has riled the population setting in motion waves of peaceful citizen protests which have peaked in the last few weeks.

Typical of the ZANU PF government in the last 20 years, it has responded both to the economic collapse and political crises by deepening state repression and economically squeezing the ordinary citizen.

Various Statutory Instruments, policies and actions by government have worsened the situation with such instruments, as statutory instrument 64 of 2016 being a case in point.

With these Statutory Instruments, the government has precipitated an attack on the peoples’ livelihoods by banning the importation of goods from mainly South Africa.

This resulted in massive protests at Beitbridge Border post as cross border traders engaged in running battles with ZIMRA officials and the Police Border Control Unit.

The protests resulted in the destruction of property worth millions of dollars as well as arrests and injuries to persons as a result of State sanctioned violence.

As civic society organisations, we condemn in the strongest of terms the use of violence as a response to ordinary citizens airing their grievances with government.

It is unreasonable for those in top echelons of government to ban imports when they and their families shop outside the country and in fact, get even basic services such as primary health care in foreign countries.

After the Beitbridge protests, civil servants i.e. teachers, nurses, doctors and other general government workers have declared a strike starting 5 July 2016 over none payment of their June 2016 salaries, thus effectively declaring their lack of confidence in government’s economic policies.

Commuter omnibus operators across the country’s major cities have also embarked on wildcat protests against shameless police corruption and the unreasonable US$200.00 fine regime, which was gazetted through Statutory Instrument 41 of 2016.

The response of the State has been ruthless, brutal and has negated the basic tenets of respect for fundamental human rights and the obligations of the State.

As civic society organizations, we are in full solidarity with the ordinary citizens who are asking the right question on government and placing their legitimate demands but are being met with force and naked brutality.

The government must be reminded of its obligations and duties as defined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment 20 Chapter 4 as well as the various international treaties, convention and protocols to which Zimbabwe is party to.

It is criminal for the government to abuse its resources and power to crush ordinary citizens as being observed in the Beitbridge, Epworth, Mabvuku and other areas where protests are under way.

We thus demand as follows:

  • The State security organs especially the police must forthwith cease to use violence on peaceful protestor

  • The State must uphold the rule of law and respect human rights.

  • Immediate payment, in full, of civil servants’ salaries

  • Immediate repealing of anti-people economic policies, legislation and conduct.

  • The State must respect freedom of speech, of the media, assembly and to petition as set out in the national constitution.

  • The government must put an end to corruption, arrest and incarcerate those who have looted the economy empty.

  • We further call upon SADC and the AU to restrain the Zimbabwean government from using force against unarmed civilians engaging in legitimate protests

  • That the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission investigates the continued violation of citizens’ constitutional rights by the State as well as put forward recommendations directing the State to respect citizens’ fundamental rights and freedoms.

  • We further call upon the Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission to act without fear or favour in stemming corruption by political bigwigs which has also been largely responsible for the suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans.