UK parly group wants Mnangagwa invite to King Charles coronation withdrawn

The United Kingdom All Parliamentary Party Group (APPG) that sits on Zimbabwe has urged the British government to rescind an invitation granted to President Emmerson Mnangagwa to attend King Charles’ coronation, citing the country’s deteriorating political and human rights situation.

APPG argues President Mnangagwa may exploit the coronation invitation as tacit support by the UK yet Zimbabwe openly goes through political violence and repression.

King Charles’s coronation is scheduled for May 6, 2023, at Westminster Abbey, where President Mnangagwa has officially accepted an invitation to join other international dignitaries expected at the ceremonial home of the British monarchy.

In a letter to UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on April 24, 2023, the APPG Chair Niv Mishra, with other 10 members of the group, stated that Zimbabwe’s political and human rights violations were widespread, with opposition members of parliament and party members harassed, abused, arrested and murdered.

“Corruption is rife extending to the highest leftist of government destroying the economy and impoverishing the Zimbabwe people, the judiciary, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and all state institutions have been suborned to the ruling party,” he said.

Mishra said leader of the Citizens Coalition of Change (CCC) Nelson Chamisa has been “habitually”  denied permission to hold rallies and his political activities are frequently disrupted by violent Zanu PF supporters and the police.

He also claimed that the ZEC appointees were “overwhelming Zanu PF supporters including the sons and daughters of Zanu PF party officials.”

The APPG chair cited how CCC legislator Job Sikhala has been held in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison for over 300 days and denied his constitutional right to bail, over his involvement in a protest over the death of opposition activist Moreblessing Ali.

Quoting the Inter-Parliamentary Union on October 22, 2022, the APPG said they were failing “to understand how Sikhala’s detention in a maximum security prison could possibly be justified”  while they were also alarmed by allegations that he was held in “inhuman conditions.”

Mishra also cited the arrests of another CCC legislator Joanah Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Nestai Marova for taking part in a protest and subsequently abducted from Harare Central Police Station, tortured, sexually assaulted and dumped by a roadside in 2020.

Instead of arresting perpetrators, the APPG chair said these three women were charged with publishing a false statement alleged to be prejudicial to the State.

“Three years on, Joana and Cecelia continue to face state-sponsored harassment through the courts. Their colleague Netsai Marova managed to escape from the country and gain sanctuary in Norway,” Mishra said.

The APPG chair mentioned that on February 27, 2023, a CCC rally was attacked in Kwekwe where a 30-year-old party supporter, Mboneni Ncube was killed and 17 others were seriously injured.

This incident occurred a day after Zimbabwe’s Vice President, Constantino Chiwenga, told ruling party supporters at Mbizo Stadium Kwekwe that Zanu PF would “crush the (CCC) party like lice.”

The APPG chair also cited the attack on Bulawayo Metropolitan MP, Jasmine Toffa in October 2022 where both her arms were broken by suspected Zanu PF supporters when she was campaigning for a local councillor candidate.

“And there are regular reports of local party campaigners and councillors attacked, tortured and murdered with direct incitement from Zanu PF leaders,” Mishra claimed.

 Mishra went on to say the conviction of CCC National Spokesperson, Fadzayi Mahere on April 5, 2023 was a “travesty of justice” as it was based on a non-existent law in Zimbabwe that was declared void by the Constitutional Court in 2014.

“The High Court confirmed this in another case in 2021. The Magistrate Court, in this case, should have taken note of the decisions of the upper courts and acquitted Mahere,” Mishra said indicating the extent authorities were willing to muzzle critical voices and suppress the right to freedom of expression.

Another “chilling” incident, the APPG cited is the direct threats made on Twitter by Deputy Chief Secretary – Presidential Communications in the Office of the President of Zimbabwe,  George Charamba, to a human rights and pro-Democracy activist, Makomborero Haruzivishe who has faced “continuous intimidation and prosecutorial harassment which included 37 arrests and detention without trial for 11 months.”

According to Mishra, 2023 is already shaping up to be a year of high tension due to anticipated elections in July.

“Independent sources including Amnesty International Human Rights Watch and Reporters without Borders are recording rising levels of political repression, arbitrary and politically motivated arrests on selected opposition party members and intimidation of the press,” he said, adding that recommendations of the Commission of inquiry led by former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe established to investigate the killing and violence on August 1, 2018 elections are still not implemented.

“We therefore urge the government to withdraw President Mnangagwa’s invitation until Job Sikhal and other political prisoners are granted their constitutional right to bail and concrete actions are taken to address human rights and guaranteed free and fair elections,” said Mishra, in a letter co-signed by co-chair, Lord Oates and nine other APPG members.

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