The plight of Zimbabweans requires our urgent attention.
The Socialist Party (Zambia) is deeply moved by goings on in our sister Republic of Zimbabwe.
What the working class is facing is brutal and cannot be justified. How can an administration that campaigned on a platform of reviving the economy and democracy descend on its citizens using its military power?
The recent fuel hike means petrol prices rose from $1.24 (£0.97) a litre to $3.31 with diesel up from $1.36 a litre to $3.11. At these prices, Zimbabwe has the most expensive gasoline in the world per litre. The next highest is Hong Kong at US$2.06. How can the Zimbabwean government justify this?
Now we hear, in trying to hide its heavy-handedness, the government has blocked Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp messaging apps amid a crackdown on days of violent protests.
What is the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa trying to hide from the global eyes?
If SADC cannot come out clear and condemn the military brutality in Zimbabwe, then what else is left of this regional body?
SADC leaders have been firm condemning the West on sanctions on Zimbabwe, and rightly so. But why are regional leaders and the African Union mute over the regime’s brutality against innocent citizens?
And this annoying silence seem premeditated. Not too long ago, we saw the ruling elite unleashing the military against citizens for questioning the elections results in last year’s presidential elections.
The toothless SADC again sided with the ruling civilian-military elite.
Today Zimbabwe is deputy chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security. The organ is led by Zambia. And typical to his defence of the ruling elite in Zimbabwe, Zambian President Edgar Lungu has not issued any concern over events unfolding in Zimbabwe. He was quick to advise the DRC to consider a government of national unity yet he did nothing when MDC leaders were being arrested and several other civilians were murdered or maimed in the aftermath of the disputed elections.
Again, today when our innocent brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe are being shot at and opposition leaders are forced into hiding over the unbearable socio-economic situation – President Lungu and his SADC colleagues seem to be blind to the reality!
We have letdown the people of Zimbabwe for too long. This cannot be tolerated.
It’s unbecoming of our regional leaders to leave these defenceless citizens to the mercy of the police and military.
These people are not attacking the system. They are pleading for a livelihood. Here are the citizens who have stood by the ZANU-PF through the thick and thin since independence. To be killed for asking the government to reconsider the hyper fuel price and to address food scarcities cannot be tolerated.
The primary responsibility of any government, any sane government is protection of its citizens.
We also call upon the men in uniform to restrain themselves from the heavy-handed manner they are treating fellow citizens.
They should realise that the international community is looking and remember that the fourth Nurnberg principle states that: the fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.
Our views coincide too with those of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC/Commission) which recently raised concern about the fast deteriorating economic situation triggered by the recent monetary and fiscal policy pronouncements.
The ZHRC noted, “Whilst austerity measures meant to transform the performance of the economy may be inevitable, due care and diligence must be exercised to protect the rights and well-being of especially the vulnerable members of society. In particular, it is important to develop pro-poor policies including the setting up of effective social safety nets to ensure access to basic goods and services by all. Section 13 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe implores the state and all institutions of government to ensure equitable development. Further, section 13 (2) requires government to involve the people in the formulation and implementation of development plans and programmes that affect them.”
The ZHRC also urged the national leadership to take urgent steps to rescue the situation as well as protect the value of savings, incomes and pensions. Leaders must also be exemplary and reduce their own extravagance and not make the poor in society bear the bigger brunt and consequences of their policies and decisions.
The Zimbabwean government must realise that it’s the sole duty bearer in terms of addressing economic challenges currently obtaining in that country. No one in our region, including the world at large, should gloss over what Zimbabweans are going through. These are people who are patriotic and hard working. They have stood by their government in the midst of high cost of basic commodities, unemployment, scarcity of fuel, high cost of medicines or lack of it, among other socio-economic challenges. Zimbabweans value their country and the deserve nothing less but normalcy and full enjoyment of their socio-economic rights.
Statement issued by Dr Fred M’membe on behalf of the Politburo of the Socialist Party(Zambia),
Mwika Royal Village,