CITIZENS Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa yesterday laid bare the worsening human rights situation in the country before a Commonwealth team currently visiting to assess its suitability to be readmitted into the club.
The Commonwealth team, led by assistant secretary-general Luis Franceschi, is in the country following an application for readmission by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2018.
Chamisa told the team that there was no rule of law in the country, with selective application of the law in favour of the ruling Zanu PF party and its members.
“On the political climate and the breakdown of the rule of law, we emphasised that Zimbabwe suffered from a crisis of governance. We emphasised what is obtaining in the country in terms of breakdown and state of the rule of law,” Chamisa said.
“It is a crisis borne out of disputed elections, legitimacy and we have noted that Zimbabwe is buffeted by a set of circumstances that have germinated acrimony, division, disputed national process and outcome, disputed leaderships, toxicity and lack of legitimacy. This has been essentially the problem in Zimbabwe.”
The Commonwealth team has already met government ministers, civil society organisations, journalists and the ruling Zanu PF party.
Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth in 2002 over alleged human rights abuses before the late former President Robert Mugabe withdrew the country’s club membership.
The CCC leader tabled the party’s grievances on electoral malpractices, which include lack of a credible voters roll, refusal of the diaspora vote by the government and rising political violence.
“On the electoral environment, we noted the general lack of political will to implement reforms. The electoral environment has been marred by violence, political violence, violation of rights, we made issues on the refusal to implement the diaspora vote,” Chamisa said.
“We have also made issues of the voters roll that must be made available to participants. We want the voters roll that is going to be used in 2023 elections to be audited by an independent firm so that we do not have a shambolic voters roll.”
An independent election watchdog, the Election Resources Centre (ERC), last week threatened to sue the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to force the elections body to review fees to access a physical copy of the voters roll.
Zec quoted the ERC US$187 238 to assess the document.
Data experts such as Team Pachedu have exposed a number of anomalies in the voters roll, with critics saying this dented the credibility of Zec to hold a reliable election.
Chamisa said they exposed lack of genuine dialogue platforms to resolve the country’s long-running political and socio-economic crisis.
Mnangagwa has insisted on the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) where he regularly meets leaders of fringe opposition parties.
Chamisa has refused to participate in Polad, describing the platform as a Zanu PF cheerleaders club.
“We noted the absence of a genuine inclusive and comprehensive dialogue in Zimbabwe. We made emphasis on the fact that we are seeing an increase in the repressive tendencies and the dictatorial.
“We made references to the Private Voluntary Organisations Bill, the Maintenance of Order and Peace Act and the proposed Patriotic Bill,” Chamisa said.
“We highlighted that the attack and persecution of civil society is an alarming one, including the targeting of human rights defenders, teachers, journalists, lawyers and in some instances church members.”