‘Restore citizens’ freedoms’ – Demand 100 civil society organisations

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OVER 100 Civil Society Organisations produced the following Joint Statement on the Military Take Over in Zimbabwe on November 15, 2017.

‘We the undersigned civil society organisations guided by the Constitution express our concern over the political developments in Zimbabwe, today, Wednesday 15 November 2017.

‘We call for the peaceful and constitutional resolution of the situation and the immediate return of Constitutional order and democracy in Zimbabwe. As civil society, we reiterate our position that the political transition in Zimbabwe must be guided by the Constitution and should adhere to all full tenets of democracy enshrined in it that include a multi-party democratic political system.

‘We condemn any actions, attempts and interests to attain state power outside constitutional provisions. We believe that the solution to Zimbabwe’s socio-economic and political problems should be a product of an inclusive all stakeholder process. In the interest of peace, stability and progress in Zimbabwe, we urge President Mugabe to voluntarily step down and pave way for an all-inclusive all stakeholder process which will determine the future of Zimbabwe.

‘We implore and would want to remind the Zimbabwe Defence Forces that they have an obligation and duty to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution. We expect and demand that that they fulfil their obligation by:

‘• Issuing a clear and quickly implementable roadmap to restoring constitutional order in Zimbabwe.

‘• In pursuit of our rights and obligations to the Constitution as citizens we urge the people of Zimbabwe to remain peaceful and freely contribute to their preferred way forward and solution to the current crisis.

‘• We call on the South African Development Community (SADC) to be the arbiter and allow an inclusive dialogue with political parties, civil society, church, labour, students and other critical stakeholders. We implore SADC to take a leaf from the active and constructive role the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has played in its sub-region in countries such as in Mali, Burkina Faso and Gambia in demanding and pressuring authorities to swiftly restore constitutional orders and protect citizens rights.

‘• We call on the Parliament of Zimbabwe to uphold and fulfil their constitutional obligations by:

‘• Creating conditions for the swift realignment of key laws to the constitution including the Electoral Act paving way for the conduct of credible free and fair election in 2018;

‘• Repealing legislation that dilutes progressive provisions of the constitutions such as the Cyber-Security Act;

‘• Immediately discard Constitutional Amendment Bill No.1 of 2017 to safeguard the independence of the judiciary;

‘• Restoring citizens freedoms of assembly and speech by amending restrictive laws such as the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

‘• Liberalise the media space;

‘• Ensuring civil servants’ neutrality in the political processes in line with the Constitution

‘We reiterate our position that events in Zimbabwe pose serious security challenges for ordinary citizens and the global democratic order and restate our commitment to defend the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s political transition must be guided by the Constitution and a firm commitment made to uphold the Rule of Law.’

Signed by over one hundred Zimbabwean civil organisations.

On November 14th, hundreds of ex-Mhangura mine workers who allege they have been given a raw deal by their previous employer recently engaged the Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union over their case.

The workers, who said their previous employer (Mhangura Copper Mines) had swindled them out of their pension funds nearly two decades after being laid off, have engaged the trade union to assist them to get their dues. The mine closed 18 years ago. The general secretary for Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union (ZDAMWU), Comrade Justice Chinhema, confirmed that the union had taken over the case.

He said: ‘Currently, ZDAMWU has taken over the issue of Mining Industries Pension Fund (MIPF) for some ex-Mhangura mine workers who did not receive their funds when they were retrenched.

‘We are assisting the workers get their pension from the mining pension fund and through a survey we noted that a lot of workers only got their pension contributions without their employer’s contributions.’

Chinhema added that his organisation was conducting surveys in mining and former mining areas to assess the living conditions. He continued: ‘ZDAMWU has noted that mine industry workers were the most affected, with poor salaries, compromised health and safety conditions, poor or non-payment of wages and unlawful termination of employment contracts. We are taking all the cases we are receiving to the National Employment Council (Mining) and Ministry of Labour.

Chinhema also said their mother body – the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) – has encouraged workers and ex-workers facing similar problems to visit its offices for assistance as it will help link the workers with their particular industry trade union groups. He also urged workers to be wary of bogus and deceitful people masquerading as ZFTU members.

• After the military action ZANU-PF National Youth League Secretary Comrade Kudzanai Chipanga last night apologised profusely to Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantino Guveya Chiwenga and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces hierarchy for his remarks on Tuesday at the ZANU-PF Headquarters in which he denigrated the ZDF, saying he was not the author of the statement he read.

The four-page statement, Chipanga said, was handed to him on Tuesday morning by fellow member Rodney Dangarembizi. Speaking on Zimbabwean television Chipanga said he was a young man, still learning and had learnt a lot from the incident.

He said: ‘I issue a Public apology to the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General Constantino Guveya Chiwenga, Commander Zimbabwe National Army General Phillip Valerio Sibanda and the Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander Air Marshal, Perrance Shiri and the generality of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and the entire nation of Zimbabwe.

‘I would like to apologise for the statement I made yesterday (Tuesday) together with my executive at the ZANU-PF Headquarters. I, as leader of the revolutionary party’s Youth League, have reflected and personally admitted that I erred.

‘I was ill-advised to read a statement which I and the Youth League had not originated or authored. The document which I read, I was handed by Rodney Dangarembizi in the morning at around 8.30am which was denigrating your high office and your person.’ Chipanga implored General Chiwenga to accept his apology.

He continued: ‘Therefore, I kindly request General Chiwenga to please Sir accept my apologies on behalf of the Youth League and myself. We are still young people. We are still growing up and learning from our mistakes. From this big mistake, we have learnt a lot.’

Chipanga said he was not forced or persuaded by anyone to apologise to the army hierarchy and had done so upon reflection. He continued: ‘I will also like to emphasise that this statement which I have given I have not been persuaded neither coerced or forced to do as such.

‘I emphasise that I have reflected on my own as a young person, as the leader of the Youth League hence I have come to this juncture of offering myself to the State media to give this public apology. We shall also make frantic efforts to approach the commanders of our Defence Forces in person so that we convey this apology. I thank you.’

On Tuesday Chipanga slammed General Chiwenga and the ZDF saying: ‘All those in security sector fatigues who wish to engage in politics are free to throw their hats in the ring and not hide behind the barrel of the gun,’ as he accused the ZDF of looting diamonds among other alleged infractions.

The Zimbabwe Defence Forces said they are only targeting the criminals around the President. Their statement read: ‘Fellow Zimbabweans, following the address we made on November 13th 2017 which we believe our main broadcaster, ZBC and The Herald were directed not to publicise, the situation in our country has moved to another level.

‘Firstly, we wish to assure the nation that His Excellency, The President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Comrade R.G. Mugabe and his family, are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed. We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice.

‘As soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect that the situation will return to normalcy. To the civil servants, as you are aware, there is a plan by the same individuals to influence the current purging which is taking place in the political sphere to the civil service.

‘We are against that act of injustice and we intend to protect every one of you against that. To the judiciary, the measures underway are intended to ensure that, as an independent arm of the State, you are able to exercise your independent authority without fear of being obstructed as has been the case with this group of individuals.

‘To our Members of Parliament, your legislative role is of paramount importance for peace and stability in this country and it is our desire that a dispensation is created that allows you to serve your respective political constituencies according to democratic tenets.

‘To the generality of the people of Zimbabwe, we urge you to remain calm and limit unnecessary movement. However, we encourage those who are employed and those with essential business in the city to continue their normal activities as usual.

‘Our wish is that you enjoy your rights and freedoms and that we return our country to a dispensation that allows for investment, development and prosperity that we all fought for and for which many of our citizens paid the supreme sacrifice. To political parties, we urge you to discourage your members from engaging in violent behaviour.

‘To the youth, we call upon you to realise that the future of this country is yours. Do not be enticed with dirty coins of silver, be disciplined and remain committed to the ethos and values of this great nation. To all churches and religious organisations in Zimbabwe, we call upon you and your congregations to pray for our country and preach the gospel of love, peace, unity and development

‘To both our people and the world beyond our borders, we wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover of government. What the Zimbabwe Defence Forces is doing is to pacify a degenerating political, social and economic situation in our country which if not addressed may result in violent conflict.

‘We call upon all the war veterans to play a positive role in ensuring peace, stability and unity in the country. To members of the Defence Forces, all leave is cancelled and you are all to return to your barracks with immediate effect. To our respected traditional leaders, you are the custodians of our culture, customs, traditions and heritage and we request you to provide leadership and direction to your communities for the sake of unity and development in our country.

‘To the other Security Services, we urge you to cooperate for the good of our country. Let it be clear that we intend to address the human security threats in our country. Therefore any provocation will be met with an appropriate response. To the media, we urge you to report fairly and responsibly.

‘Thank you.’