12 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Diaspora Protests to 'Intensify' Ahead of Zim Poll

Photo: IRIN
Zimbabweans lining up at a polling station (file photo).

The heads of a global protest movement that has been campaigning for real reforms in Zimbabwe for over a year has vowed to 'intensify' their protest action, before elections expected this year.

The comments have been made as Zimbabwe marks the four year anniversary of the formation of the unity government, which officially came into being when Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn into office in February 2009.

But four years later, there has been little change with the only progress being the recent adoption by the country's politicians of a draft constitution. This constitution will be put before a public referendum, paving the way for elections this year.

Tonderai Samanyanga, an MDC-T UK official who heads the UK wing of the Free Zimbabwe Global Protest Movement, said that the reforms they have been campaigning for as a protest group have not been implemented.

He told SW Radio Africa on Tuesday that the monthly protests, which began last January, will now intensify to ensure real changes are seen before an election.

"We need to ensure this happens. Media reform, security sector reform. These are key to our protest. We also want to ensure there are international monitors on the ground," Samanyanga said.

The protests, also called the 21st Movement, have been taking place outside Zimbabwean and South African embassies every month around the world for over a year. The protests have targeted South Africa has the mediator in Zimbabwe's political crisis, trying to pressure President Jacob Zuma to ensure there are real reforms before elections.

Samanyanga also said the four year old unity government should have engaged more with the Diaspora, because "we are an important constituency." He said the failure to include the Diaspora's voting rights in the new constitution is a key indicator that the Diaspora has not "had the full engagement we would have expected after four years."

Meanwhile the Civil Society Monitoring Mechanism (CISOMM), a non-partisan collective of NGOs that has been monitoring and evaluating the unity government's progress over the past four years, will be giving a report on the situation on Wednesday. A press conference will be taking place at the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights head office at 11am on Wednesday morning.

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