Seven western countries with diplomatic missions in Zimbabwe have expressed their displeasure at the worsening crisis in the country while condemning the Zanu-PF-led government for hiding behind Covid-19 lockdown measures in its continued crackdown on civil liberties.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has of late attracted both local and international condemnation following the arrests of opposition Transform Zimbabwe leader, Jacob Ngarivhume, journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, and other human rights activists and opposition MDC members in connection with anti-government protests that had been planned for July 31st.
In a joint statement issued Friday, the heads of mission of Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America did not mince their words on the situation in Zimbabwe.
The heads of mission said it was regrettable that despite President Mnangagwa having promised to serve all Zimbabweans at his inauguration two years ago, he is seemingly not fulfilling his promises.
“It is in this spirit that the heads of mission express their deep concern with the current political, economic, social and health crisis that most Zimbabweans are facing today,” said the heads of mission.
“The heads of mission stand by the people of Zimbabwe in their desire for a peaceful and prosperous democracy. It is because we care about the people of Zimbabwe that our governments provide extensive humanitarian assistance to those affected by drought, natural disasters, and disease – including, in this difficult year, the new global pandemic of Covid-19.”
The Western diplomats said the pandemic should not be used by the government as an excuse to restrict citizens’ fundamental freedoms.
“Freedom of the press, of opinion, of expression, and of assembly are all universally recognised human rights and are guaranteed by the Zimbabwean Constitution,” they said.
“The government also has a responsibility to investigate and prosecute those responsible for violating human rights. The heads of mission further reiterate their calls for the government to address corruption and the illicit extraction of Zimbabwe’s wealth for personal gain, which continue to undermine Zimbabwe’s development and the well-being of its people. If Zimbabwe is to reach its potential, its wealth and resources must be used to serve all Zimbabweans.”
The envoys said Zimbabweans have the right to engage in a meaningful dialogue aimed at resolving the current crisis.
“But the necessary discussions have so far been hindered by unhelpful rhetoric and blame assigned to several groups including diplomatic missions and non-state actors,” bemoaned the ambassadors.
“We ask the government to move away from such language and instead deliver on its long-promised reforms and reach across the divides. As before, we stand ready to provide support in response to meaningful progress on reforms.”