CIVIL society organisations (CSOs) under the banner of Southern African People’s Solidarity Network (Sapsn) have pleaded with the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) to call for an extraordinary summit to resolve the political and economic crises in Zimbabwe.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
The call by Sapsn comes after lawyers and human rights groups claimed that 12 civilians were shot dead by security agents during protests over fuel hikes which rocked the country last week.
“Zimbabwe has seen implementation of an inquest into the murders of civilians in August 2018 through the (Kgalema) Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry during the 4th quarter of 2018. As much as Zimbabweans thought this was a positive step, regrettably a repetition of the same events occurred with the situation in Zimbabwe now becoming dire politically and economically,” a letter directed to Sadc chairperson, Namibian President Hage Geingob and copied to other heads of State, read.
“The State’s heavy-handedness on civilians and the clampdown on human rights defenders is creating a huge threat to civil liberties and freedoms in a democracy and we are calling upon Sadc to intervene and implore Harare to stop these human rights abuses and assist Zimbabweans in building a true democracy going forward.”
Sapsn said it appreciates the role of Sadc in promoting economic development, peace and security, alleviating poverty and enhancing the standard and quality of life of the people of southern Africa through regional integration.
“Therefore, we once again plead with you to expeditiously intervene in the Zimbabwean situation…,” it said.
The groups said they were concerned by continuing economic decay characterised by high unemployment rate, skyrocketing prices of basic commodities and the overall high cost of living; deteriorating social services including health and education; currency crisis following the introduction of a surrogate currency, bond note, by the government in 2016.
Government has been insisting on the 1:1 parity between the bond note and the United States dollar. However, the adoption of neo-liberal economic policies by the current regime distorted the 1:1 exchange rate between bond note and USD, giving birth to the multi-tier pricing system.
“As of now the government is showing no political will to resolve the currency crisis which has seen inflation rising to above 200%. The fuel crisis in Zimbabwe which loomed from the final quarter of 2018 exacerbated by lack of foreign currency in the country,” it said.
In response to the acute fuel shortages, worsened by the unrealistic price structure and festering arbitrage opportunities, the government hiked fuel prices by over 150%.
The groups said the unfolding events in Zimbabwe might escalate into a regional threat as refugees flee from the political and economic crises to neighbouring countries.
“The continuous political tension might escalate into a civil war as the government is placing blame of the current turmoil on the opposition political parties and civilians. The situation is getting out of hand as people in civilian clothing armed with firearms were identified during the protests,” reads the letter.