EU Must Be More Sincere On Re-Engaging Zim

While addressing journalists at a hotel in Harare on March 25 2019, European Union (EU) Ambassador to Zimbabwe Timo Olkkonen, tried to downplay human rights violations in Europe, especially with regards to the “yellow vest” demonstrations in France.

Ironically, at the same time he insinuated that the alleged post-election human rights violations in Zimbabwe had made the country’s relations with the bloc difficult.

It did not take much to realise that EU was not so sincere when it comes to re-engaging with the Southern African country based on the objective facts on the ground.

Besides, the EU’s standoff with Zimbabwe has been based on a borrowed issue in solidarity with an aggrieved former colonial party in Zimbabwe’s history.

That is an important background.

But back to Mr Olkkonen’s presentation, there are some glaring issues that will not go unchallenged.

In essence, a miss is as good as a mile — the long and short of it is that you have missed.

If the case of alleged human rights violations in Zimbabwe were to be honestly raised, it follows that France could face similar sanction.

Ideally, EU should be seen imposing sanctions on France for the injury of over 2 000 civilians in the “yellow vets” protests owing to excessive force employed by that country’s police while quelling down the protests.

But what does France get? A quick research on the Internet showed that following a visit to Paris in February 2019, the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner, Ms Dunja Mijatovic, wrote a memorandum asking the French Government to “refrain from introducing excessive restrictions to freedom of peaceful assembly” and called for a “full investigation” into the possible excessive use of force by French police during the “yellow vest” demonstrations. Really? Have they run out of sanctions?

Down here in Southern Africa, Mr Olkkonen was at pains trying to push a narrative to the effect that the alleged human rights violations in Zimbabwe were of concern to the EU than those happening in a European country, France.

The EU ambassador e said that if African ambassadors in Europe were concerned about the violations in that region, they were free to take up the issue.

Now, this statement is an eye opener.

It shows how the EU is using the human rights violation rhetoric to evade meaningful engagement with the Zimbabwean Government.

Again, it also show how some African countries have been cowed into submission by sanction-wielding Europeans — who then would dare raise concerns about violations in Europe?

Mr Olkkonen’s utterances should, however, not be read in isolation for one to fully comprehend what the EU wants to see happening in Zimbabwe.

MDC-Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa is on record declaring that “if President Mnangagwa is not willing to dialogue, we are going to deal with him on the streets.”

In simple terms, Mr Chamisa is threatening to orchestrate violent demonstrations in a bid to force the President to dialogue with him.

The question is, where does Mr Chamisa get the power to do that?

This is where Mr Olkkonen comes in. After the good ambassador tried to downplay human rights violation in Europe, he went on to warn the Zimbabwean Government that further violations were destroying the goodwill and were a setback to the country’s recovery efforts.

In short, the Government of Zimbabwe is being threatened with economic meltdown in the event that they try to quell down Mr Chamisa’s forthcoming violent demonstrations — which government worth talking about complies with such an order?

Zimbabweans have the right to protest “peacefully,” subject to the notification of the relevant authorities.

On the other hand, the Government is entitled to safeguard the lives and property of every person in the country.

However, I doubt that demonstrations meant to force the President to do something are going to be peaceful.

This is a ploy to force the Government to react so that the EU and company can get a chance to shout on mountain tops about the alleged human rights violations by Government so as to further isolate the southern African state, in the process deliberately ignoring the opposition’s provocations in all this.

To the people of Zimbabwe, only unity can save the day.

This is the time to speak with one voice against all forms of restrictions against the mother land. Demonstrate peacefully for there is no reward in burning down your country.

Source : The Herald

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