Zimbabwe Call to Action
With Zimbabwe’s Independence Day coming up this Friday, April 18th, WSCF urges SCMs to act in any peaceful way possible to appeal to the Zimbabwean government, South African Development Community (SADC) member countries, the UN, and other international powers, for the Zimbabwean government to release the election results immediately and thereby stop the escalating violence and human rights violations.
WORLD STUDENT CHRISTIAN FEDERATION
Zimbabwe Call to Action
Dear SCM friends,
It has been 17 days since the Presidential Elections of Zimbabwe on March 29th, and the current government continues to withhold the results from the public in spite of escalating organised violence, torture, and anxiety.
With Zimbabwe’s Independence Day coming up this Friday, April 18th, WSCF urges SCMs to act in any peaceful way possible to appeal to the Zimbabwean government, South African Development Community (SADC) member countries, the UN, and other international powers, for the Zimbabwean government to release the election results immediately and thereby stop the escalating violence and human rights violations. We encourage peaceful demonstrations and letter writing to authorities to make this issue a priority now.
President Robert Mugabe’s party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), is resorting to extreme measures to overturn the March 29 general elections, and is preventing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) from announcing results of the presidential elections. Zimbabwe has had only one ruler since attaining independence from British colonial rule in 1980; President Robert Mugabe is now running for his sixth term in office.
Despite some documented cases of government abuse directed against opposition activists prior to voting, the ruling ZANU-PF party suffered a defeat to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the parliamentary elections for the first time in 28 years, in a decisive landslide victory. However, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has yet to release the results of the presidential elections that took place on the same day. Instead, ZANU-PF has questioned the validity of the presidential vote, challenged the results of 16 parliamentary constituencies which the MDC won, and called on the commission not to release the presidential results.
In the past few days, incidents of violence by ruling party supporters against opposition activists have also increased especially in rural areas, with police not arresting perpetrators. The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum reports many incidents of physical violence and torture in the past two weeks. Please see attached documents for more details.
In addition, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have received credible information of dozens of other similar attacks by ZANU-PF supporters against opposition polling agents and activists, as well as perceived MDC supporters around the country.
Since 2000 Zimbabwe has been trapped in a tragic human rights and humanitarian crisis. More than 4.5 million people face starvation and survive on food aid from donor agencies. The economy and the health delivery system have collapsed. Zimbabwe’s inflation rate is a world record 150 000%. Daily, ordinary people struggle through power-cuts, water shortages, food shortages and pools of untreated sewage flowing through neighborhoods. Many of the country’s laws remain repressive. There is no freedom of expression. Political violence, torture and intimidation is widespread and mainly perpetrated by the Zimbabwe army and police
So while there is a lot of hope among Zimbabweans at home and abroad for the outcome of this election, this hope is tainted with a lot of fear and anxiety.
After pressure from various civil society organizations, including WSCF and YWCA, heads of state from The South African Development Community (SADC) made two strong recommendations to the Government of Zimbabwe in their Communiqué released on 13 April 2008. On the day before, 8 Presidents and 6 representatives from the other SADC member countries met in Lusaka, Zambia for an extra-ordinary Summit to discuss recent events in Zimbabwe following the elections.
The Summit urged the electoral authorities in Zimbabwe that verification and release of results be expeditiously done in accordance with due process of the law, including that the verification and counting must be done in the presence of candidates and / or their agents. SADC also offered to send observers to this process.
If this verification necessitates a run off, the Government of Zimbabwe is also urged by the Summit to ensure that this is done in a secure environment. SADC offers to send an Election Observer Mission to a potential run-off.
With Zimbabwe’s Independence Day being on this Friday, April 18th, The World Student Christian Federation calls on all SCMers worldwide and others to stand in solidarity with the SCM in Zimbabwe and all Zimbabweans. We pray for the elections to be managed fairly and for peace to prevail in the country. Mindful of the recent tragic loss of hundreds of lives after the Kenyan elections, our prayer is that Zimbabwe should be spared further violence and bloodshed and that this election will bring good governance and relief to bruised spirits, and will restore joy to the hearts of many.
Let us act and pray together for Zimbabwe. (Sources: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum-International Liaison Office, Human Rights Watch (www.hrw.org), Amnesty International (www.amnesty.org)
World Student Christian Federation
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