UN envoy to tackle Zim

Gift Phiri

A UNITED Nations envoy will next week table a draft resolution on the worsening human rights situation in Zimbabwe at the 59th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Arjan Hamburger, the deputy permanent representative of the Netherlands to the UN, in his draft resolution, said the EU strongly believed that the situation of human rights in Zimbabwe merited being addressed by the third committee of the general assembly this year.

“The European Union is concerned that conditions do not exist at present in Zimbabwe for holding free and fair elections in accordance with existing principles and guidelines to which Zimbabwe has committed itself and obligations under international human rights instruments,” the draft resolution says.

“We are moreover concerned about the restrictions on the freedom to operate without fear of harassment and intimidation of members of parliament, independent civil society and human rights defenders.”

Meanwhile, members of the European parliament (MEPs) on Wednesday urged South African president Thabo Mbeki to ratchet up pressure on the Harare administration to bring about change for the people of Zimbabwe.

Conservative MEPs Geoffrey van Orden and Neil Parish met Mbeki in France on Wednesday and handed him a letter urging him to urgently take action on President Mugabe’s administration.

Mbeki, who addressed the European parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday tried to dodge the Zimbabwe crisis during his presentation. But the MEPs insisted that there was lack of assertive action towards Harare.

“Earlier this year the European Pparliament called upon South Africa in particular to act effectively to bring about change in Zimbabwe,” the letter said.

“South Africa holds the key to change in that oppressed country. What has been your response to the appeal of the international community and of those millions of Zimbabweans suffering under the Mugabe dictatorship? Conditions in Zimbabwe have deteriorated dramatically in the last year. We therefore call upon you to take action, as a matter of urgency, to help bring about change for the better for the people of Zimbabwe.”

This came as opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai stepped up his diplomatic offensive against Mugabe. Tsvangirai yesterday met EU leaders in Brussels where he urged them to press Mugabe to enact genuine electoral reforms ahead of legislative polls due next year.