Special Envoy’s Zimbabwe visit signals United Nation’s growing alarm at crisis

Today the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) suggested tough questions for the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Special Envoy to Zimbabwe, Haile Menkerios, to ask while visiting Zimbabawe this week.

The Centre said that the increasing concern by the United Nations at the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe was confirmed by this week’s visit.  

Menkerios on Monday flew to Zimbabwe amid concerns that recent developments in the country were not conducive to free and fair runoff elections planned for the end of June.

Menkerios’ visit takes place against the backdrop of political arrests – especially that of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Secretary-General Tendai Biti last week, violence and intimidation, a media ban and the delay by the government in Harare in accrediting domestic electoral observers, said Nicole Fritz, Director of the Southern African Litigation Center (SALC).

The fact that Biti had been arrested upon returning to his homeland despite assurances to the contrary by Zimbabwean authorities to their South African counterparts clearly indicated that mediation with a duplicitous Zanu-PF leadership would never amount to much. And that more – UN – involvement might be needed.

Fritz said Menkerios’ bravery and sincerity could easily be demonstrated should his visit include the following:

·         The Matapi Police Station in Mbare, where Biti is reportedly being held. The station, where numerous Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and MDC activists have been continually tortured over the years, have been declared unfit for human habitation by the country’s Supreme Court. Questions for the authorities there should include:

o    Why were his whereabouts kept secret for days after his arrest?

o    Why have authorities failed to charge him?

o    Why was the initial high court order to have him produced before a court ignored?

•   The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Command Center in Harare. There, he should ask to examine the list of applications for postal votes. If there is, as suspected, a far larger number of applications received than was the case for the harmonised elections of 29 March (approximately 8000 applications), he should ask for an account of the discrepancy. Unaccounted for discrepancies will point towards abuse of the postal ballot system to secure unlawful ZANU-PF votes from defence force members and their families.

He will also want to ask:

o    Why is their continued delay in accreditation of domestic electoral observers?

•   The provinces of Mashonaland East, West and Central as well as Manicaland and Masvingo, where much of the post-election violence occurred. He should meet with organisations forced to suspend their humanitarian operations and observe for himself the effects on local communities. He should also visit any of the rural district hospitals, such as Howard Mission or Mvurwi district hospital to meet with victims of the most recent political violence.  

With luck, she said, Menkerios would issue a report assessing the pre-runoff and post-election environment. Such report could lay the groundwork for decisive action by the UN

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *