AU gets thumbs up for report

Gift Phiri


THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) this week commended the African Union for adopting a report condemning President Robert Mugabe’s political repression and

human rights record.


The move comes ahead of the crucial March 31 general election and is likely to further damage the ruling Zanu PF’s already tattered image.


MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said the AU’s action exposed Mugabe and his Zanu PF’s “web of lies and desperate attempt to cover their tracks”.


“This is good news for Africa and sends a clear message to the outside world that Africa is serious about meeting the governance standards that it has set itself,” Nyathi said.


“The regime is increasingly isolated and continues to move against the winds of change. While the world is moving to celebrate life and peace, they continue to celebrate violence and death.”


The African Union executive council adopted the report by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) in Abuja, Nigeria, last week.


“The executive council has decided to recom-mend to the Assembly to adopt the 17th annual activity report of the ACHPR and authorise publication of this report in accordance with the provisions of Article 59 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights as well as its attachments,” the executive council said in its resolution.


An executive summary of the report was tabled at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa late last year amid loud protests from Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge, who claimed then that Zimbabwe had not been given a chance to respond to the document.


The report, which con-demned political repression and rising human rights abuses in the country, provoked anger in government circles.


“Government’s record on human rights continues to bring shame to Zimbabwe and shame to Africa,” Nyathi said. “This appalling record is now costing the government friends in its own backyard.”


Although governmentinitially rubbished thereport, it dramatically climbed down at the Abuja summit last week, expressing its regret at the loss of lives, injuries and destruction of property during the crucial land reform period, from 1999 to 2002.

It also claimed that some activities were orchestrated to give weight to allegations of abuse.


The government turn-ed to President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa to defend the country, quoting his “words of wisdom” in his ANC Today column of May 2003: “Contrary to what some in our country now claim, the economic crisis currently affecting Zimbabwe did not originate from the desperate actions of a reckless political leadership or from corruption. It arose from a genuine concern to meet the needs of the black poor without taking into account the harsh economic reality that in the end we must pay for what we consume. The more protracted this instability, the greater will be the degree of polarisation and generalised social and political conflict.”


The Zimbabwean reply also referred to Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo’s statements pointing to the question of land as “the core of the current crisis in Zimbabwe”.


Government has blam-ed the British government for the report.

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