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Civil society to press AU over political crisis

CIVIL society will challenge the African Union to closely monitor the implementation of the global political agreement and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe during the AU’s 15th ordinary session summit in Uganda.

The civic organisations meet in Kampala, Uganda, today and will be joined by governments’ representatives and diplomats, where they are expected to urge the AU to push for political and economic reforms in Zimbabwe.

Political parties — Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC-M formed the inclusive government in February last after the signing of the GPA on 15 September 2008 but political and economic reforms have dragged.

One of the organisations attending the meeting, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, will tackle issues related to the global political agreement and human rights violations.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition chairman John Makumbe, who left the country for Uganda yesterday, said the AU was failing to intervene in the political crisis in the country.

He said the African body was not doing enough in monitoring the regularly flouted GPA. Zanu PF is accused of failing to adhere to the GPA and the MDC-T is complaining of a host of outstanding issues including the swearing-in of Agriculture Deputy Minister-designate Roy Bennett.

“The AU needs to do more about Zimbabwe’s political situation,” said Makumbe. “They are not playing their role because the GPA is not implemented. We have lost hope in Sadc because they have failed.”

Sadc has taken a long time to find a lasting solution to a stalemate between the feuding political parties to the GPA although the Southern African body is also expected to meet to discuss the Zimbabwean issue.

There is of grave concern, Makumbe said, over AU’s sluggish approach on the political violence perpetrated by Zanu PF against political opponents and the civic society.

“There is nothing in place to stop widespread violence in the country,” Makumbe said. “The AU is ignoring the volatile political situation in Zimbabwe. Perpetrators of human rights violations have not been brought to book. As civic organisations, we are saying something should be done to correct the state of affairs,” he said.

Cases of political violence continue rising even during the constitution- making process. Reports say Zanu PF is orchestrating a wave of violence against civic organsations and MDC-T members in rural areas.

More cases of political violence are likely to be witnessed if the country goes to elections next year. Civil society has urged for political reforms that would allow free and fair elections. 

Makumbe said the constitution-making process was likely to come under the spotlight at the Kampala summit. He said it was worrying that violence reared its ugly head during the constitution outreach exercise.

Another civic organisation, Women in Politics Support Unit, is also expected to send representatives to highlight the socio-political crisis in Zimbabwe.
Heads of State and Government convene in Kampala from July 25-27 where they are scheduled to participate in the summit that will focus on peace and security, energy, infrastructure and food security.

Authorities in Uganda have assured that the country was ready to host a safe summit despite the recent al-Shahbab suicide bombings that killed more than 70 people.

Brian Chitemba

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