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Zimbabwe CSOs petition SADC over ‘one-party state’ transition

Zimbabwe civil society organisations have petitioned the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to intervene in what they see as Harare's…

Zimbabwe civil society organisations have petitioned the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to intervene in what they see as Harare’s shrinking democratic space, according to reports monitored here on Wednesday.The privately owned NewsDay reported that 350 CSOs have pleaded to SADC chairman, President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi to stop President Emmerson Mnangagwa from pushing for a one-party state system through banning by-elections under the guise of enforcing COVID-19 safety protocols, and clamping down on vocal opposition parties and NGOs. 

It said also raised in a letter written to Chakwera on September 8 were concerns over proposed amendments to the private voluntary organisations law that the CSOs see as an attempt by the Zimbabwean government to silence organisations which have been vocal in calling for reforms and a stop to human rights violations in the country.

“We continue to maintain our conviction, Your Excellency, that SADC has a role to play in addressing the crises bedevilling Zimbabwe,” the CSOs said.

“The sad indicators herein point towards regression, towards a closed and one-party state in Zimbabwe.”

The organisations said the smooth democratic processes that took place in Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia should inspire SADC to act on Zimbabwe and ensure the country is shepherded into constitutionalism.

The CSOs accused the government of refusing to hold by-elections in more than 40 constituencies where seats have fallen vacant since 2019.

They described the refusal of the government to hold by-elections as “an unreasonable usurpation of the universal suffrage right of Zimbabweans.”

“If other countries like Malawi, Zambia and very soon South Africa are following their constitutions in giving the governance of their countries to the hands of their citizens, why would Zimbabwe fail to organise and hold by-elections according to the law,” the letter said.

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