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Konare’s no-show miffs rights goups

Augustine Mukaro

HUMAN rights organisations have expressed disappointment over African Union chairperson Alpha Omar Konare’s failure to meet civil society during his recent visit to the country.

stify>Konare was in Zimbabwe last Friday but snubbed the human rights activists. He only met President Robert Mugabe on what he said was a “consultation of Africa’s elder statesman and a founding father of the AU on resolving conflicts in the Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Ivory Coast”.

The National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (Nango) confirmed that Konare rejected its members’ efforts to meet him for an appraisal of the Zimbabwe situation.

“We appreciate the urgent need to resolve the crisis in Sudan and the region but there is a strong feeling that the Zimbabwean situation is equally important,” Nango spokesman Fambai Ngirande said.

“We would have wanted to give the chairman an update on government’s reluctance to implement the African Commission’s recommendations on the rule of law, continued evictions and horrible living conditions for the victims of Operation Murambatsvina.”

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), which played a pivotal role in the compilation of a shadow report on rampant human rights violations presented to the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), an arm of the AU, expressed concerned at Konare’s behaviour.

“We are concerned with Commissioner Konare’s failure to meet civic organisations despite the fact that the ACHPR presented him with (evidence of) a disturbing human rights situation in Zimbabwe,” Otto Saki of the ZLHR said.

Human Rights Trust of Southern Africa (Sahrit) director Noel Kututwa said he was saddened that Konare ignored them.

“We are unhappy with the development,” Kututwa said. “AU as a political body tend to side with government which is one of the reasons why Zimbabwe is getting away with gross human rights violations such as Operation Murambatsvina.”

l In a letter to President Mugabe in April, ACHPR chairperson Ambassador Salamata Sawadogo said Zimbabwe should take provisional measures to avoid causing irreparable damage to victims of the operation.

“The African Commission, having examined the request of the complainants, has decided, in conformity with Article 111 of the African Commission’s Rules of Procedure, to request Your Excellency and the government of Zimbabwe to take provisional measures to obviate the general deterioration of the health of 34 terminally ill individuals infected by HIV/Aids and who, due to Operation Murambatsvina, are said to lack access to medical treatment, in particular anti-retroviral drugs,” his letter says.

Sawadogo said government had to ensure that the 210 children displaced by the operation were given an opportunity to pursue their education.

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