Malawi CSOs Challenge Chakwera to Engage Zimbabwe President On Rights Violations

President Emmerson Mnangagwa at Absolom Sikhosana Burial At The National Heroes’ Acre.
30 September 2020

The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and the Youth and Society (YAS) have written a letter to Minister if Foreign Affairs Elsenwhower Mkaka asking President Lazarus Chakwera , who will be on a two-day State visit to Harare, to engage President Emmerson Mnangagwa to "tone down" on escalation of human rights violations.

In a letter dated September 29 2020, made seen by Nyasa Times, CHRR acting executive director Micheal Kaiyatsa and YAS executive director Charles Kajoloweka said Zimbabwe is now characterused by arbitrary arrests, abductions, expulsions, disappearances and torture if journalists, political activists, government critics and human rights defenders.

The CSOs pointed out that the most recent violent clampdown on human rights came in response to a scheduled 31 July demonstration organised by activists who are demanding a better Zimbabwe.

The march was supposed to be peaceful mass protest against corruption, unbearable economic hardship and social injustices made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has engaged the Israeli government for possible deployment of security experts to Harare to train local forces on how to effectively contain civil disobedience.

They said: "Time has come for Malawi and its leadership to take a just stand against a continued impunity and draconian attempts at silencing the peoples of our neighbouring nations."

They observed that Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) leaders have indifferently watched, rarely exerted pressure on Zimbabwe.

The CSOs said the Sadc leaders silence has "aided and abetted the tragedy reducing Zimbabwe to a model of how demise of rule of law can relegate a democratic nation to an enemy of its people.

"The 'See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil' pact has not helped make Zimbabwe a better place for all, but made SADC member States, including Malawi, complicit to the horrifying human rights violations and a breakdown of rule of law currently getting worse," said the Malawi rights defenders.

Therefore, CHRR and YAS urge Chakwera, "to use this State visit as a platform to send a clear message that the actions of the Government of Zimbabwe are inherently at wide variance with the agreed norms of democratic governance and call upon them to address fundamental domestic challenges whose effects are disastrous on its people and the region."

Presidential spokesman Brian Banda said Chakwera as the incoming Sadc chairperson is on a tour aimed at strengthening bilateral relations through trade.

He said there are diplomatic ways how countries talk to each other and that concerns from CSOs "cannot be discussed in the media."

This is Chakwera's second foreign trip since taking office in June. Last week he visited Zambia on a day-return where he met that country's President Edgar Chagwa Lungu.

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