Crisis Coalition Statement on International Day of Peace
21 September 2022,
The world today commemorates International Day of Peace under the theme “End Racism, Build Peace”. Indeed, peace is worth celebrating where it exists, as it is the cornerstone of sustainable and inclusive development. Peace is what has held communities, nations and the globe together and provided the foundation for some of humanity’s greatest achievements and advances to date.
It is unfortunate that this year’s edition of the International Day of Peace comes at a time when Zimbabwe has continued to slide down the Global Peace Index, being placed number 127 in the world and number 31 out of 44 nations in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2017, when President Mnangagwa took over power, Zimbabwe was on number 118, and since then, the country's peace ratings have continued to retreat. This trend has been largely attributed to the government’s failure to effectively tackle the scourge of political violence, which is itself the result of a country that is always seemingly in ‘election mode’. political polarisation seems to have split the country into two irreconcilable political camps, fanned by political leaders and cascading into the communities and virtually all facets of life.This political polarisation remains the greatest threat to peace in Zimbabwe.
Crisis Coalition agrees with broad assertions that have highlighted how peace is not just the absence of physical violence. Citizens of Zimbabwe today continue to be subjected to an even worse form of violence - economic violence - which the government of Zimbabwe and including the ruling party infrastructure, continues to perpetrate on citizens, both within and outside the ruling party. Beyond selective application of the law, the government and ruling party have also made it an ‘unofficial’ policy to selectively accord (or deny) citizens economic opportunity and a chance to attain a livelihood, based on political party affiliation. Beyond such tendencies bordering on democide, such denial of equal access to economic opportunity is the greatest driver of outward migration of Zimbabwean citizens to other countries.
Economic violence against citizens has also found expression in the high-level corruption and looting of national resources, which now all seem to have the blessing of the ruling party. The government today cannot guarantee its citizens basic social services and goods, decent livelihoods and a properly functioning economy. The increase in violent crime across the country negates any parotted progress under the Second Republic, and is a clear sign that the government’s dalliance with ‘speculative’ capital is not only exploitative but is itself a danger to any long-term and sustainable recovery of the Zimbabwe economy. The current government’s key international capital alliances are unlikely to result in sustainable economic growth, but just the plunder of national resources and enrichment of a few politically connected elites.
Crisis Coalition implores the government of Zimbabwe and the ruling party ZANU PF, to rise above toxic, violent and destructive politics based on hate and discrimination, and for once, begin to show genuine political will towards the respect for the Constitution’s principles on peace, good governance and democracy. It is indeed worrying when the government of the day and the ruling party continue to be champions of undermining peace and democracy; actively pursuing the politics of persistent inequality, selective law application, political conflict, and ethnic and tribal discrimination. It is these tendencies which have collectively worked to destabilize our Zimbabwean society and in the process, undermines the very legitimacy of government.
Cases of political violence, with the ruling ZANU PF party as the major perpetrator, continue to soar ahead of what is likely to be a violent 2023 general election. State security agents and Zanu PF supporters and militia have continued to collude in unleashing violence on opposition supporters, journalists and civil rights activists and human rights defenders, especially those that have sought to speak out against government’s excesses and hold it to account. Communities in rural areas have continued to report incidents of intimidation, harassment, hate speech and assault, while the government has continued to systematically ban or curtail opposition and civil society activities.
As we write, 16 opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party activists, including two legislators, have been detained for over three months and lawyers representing the 16 have said the detainees are being treated in remand prison as hardcore criminals and they are being denied visitors and food. Yet, these citizens have a right to bail. That the perpetrator of the heionuous murder of Moreblessing Ali, at whose funeral wake these activists were arrested, is out on bail, represents a great travesty of justice, which is not conducive for building peace.
Beyond the selective application of the law, the enactment of draconian and colonial era laws also fans hatred and undermines peace. The mooted PVO Amendment Bill isa sign of an unrepentant political elite that is refusing to be bound by norms of good governance. Most of the laws that the government is increasingly relying on are ultra vires the constitution, which again is another source of conflict that undermines peace.
In light of all this, the Coalition urges authorities to ensure that all persons are protected from violence and conflict in line with Section 52(a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which states that everyone has the right to bodily and psychological integrity, which includes the right to freedom from all forms of violence from public and private sources.The State, therefore, has an obligation to take preventative steps to protect everyone from all forms of violence.
We also call on the government of Zimbabwe to meet its obligation to put in place and enforce measures that promote peace in the public and private spheres and these measures can be, but not limited to, awareness campaigns, reforming errant State security institutions that have been at the forefront of perpetrating acts of violence.
We encourage the government to stop enacting unconstitutional laws that undermine peaceful co-existence and democracy.This is because the Constitution obliges the State, and every person, including juristic persons, and every institution and agency of government at every level, to promote national unity, peace and stability.