Civil society appeals for pressure on Zim

A COALITION of civil society organisations yesterday asked the Pan African Parliament to ratchet up pressure on Zimbabwe to help entrench democracy in the crisis-ridden country.



ca, sans-serif”>In a petition delivered to the South African Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Jeremiah Ndou, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition demanded an immediate end to human rights abuse, the repeal of repressive legislation, restoration of the rule of law, and the restoration of economic and political freedoms.

Reports from South Africa said 300 Zimbabwean protesters carrying placards reading “We need food not violence”, “Democracy now”, and “Restore our basic freedoms” toyi-toyied outside the Gallagher Estate in Midrand yesterday morning, interrupting the opening ceremony of the parliament. A petition handed out by the protesters spoke of a “chronic democratic deficit” in Zimbabwe.

The petition, delivered by women activists, draws the attention of the Speaker to the massive human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

“Women have been raped by the youth militia and they have been the hardest hit by lack of food in Zimbabwe,” the petition says. “Women’s rights must be respected. Women must be treated with dignity and respect. Use of food as a political weapon against opponents must stop.”

The coalition calls for an end to political violence. It also demands that police and security forces be impartial in carrying out their duties. The group calls for the repeal of a raft of legislation that it says subjugates civil liberties.

“We demand the repeal of the Public Order and Security Act, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Broadcasting Services Act and the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act in their entirety so as to provide full freedom and equitable access to the media,” the petition says.

“The NGO Bill that seeks to ban all NGOs (dealing with governance) must not be allowed to take effect.”

The coalition also demanded that free and fair regular elections based on the principle of universal suffrage be conducted in Zimbabwe. The group further seeks the immediate restoration and respect of people’s fundamental freedoms of assembly and association, and freedom of the media.

“Abusers of these rights must be tried under properly constituted courts of law with jurisdiction,” the coalition said. – Staff Writers.