We, The Botswana Civil Society Solidarity Coalition for Zimbabwe (BOCISCOZ) wish to express our deep regret at the decisions taken by our regional Heads of States at the recent Extraordinary Summit of the SADC Heads of State and Government held in Pretoria, South Africa on 26-27 January 2009. The Summit resolved that The Government of National Unity (GNU) should be formed in Zimbabwe by 13 February 2009.

BOCISOZ notes with serious concern that SADC has failed to speak out and act on urgent issues which affect the daily lives of the Zimbabwean people. These are:

• Abductions, torture and illegal detention of civil society activists, under life-threatening conditions, which should stop. Those who have been detained should be properly charged and fairly tried or released unconditionally. Court orders should be respected by those in authority to ensure justice for victims of human rights violations.
• Several Zimbabweans have fled the country in fear for their lives. They should be free to return home under guaranteed, safe conditions.
• Lack of basic services has led to the cholera outbreak in which over 3000 people have died. Most schools were closed for an effective year in 2008 and children were denied a right to education. Humanitarian aid is distributed in a partisan manner with preference given to those who support ZANU-PF. Basic services need to be resumed. Humanitarian aid need to be distributed in a non-partisan manner to ensure that all Zimbabweans, regardless of political party affiliation, are provided for by those in authority.
• Peaceful marches and protests at the continually deteriorating socio-economic, political and civil situation have been brutally suppressed. Zimbabweans should have their right to freedom of speech and assembly protected by the authorities.
• Access to travel is severely hindered by the cost of $US 650.00 for a Zimbabwean passport.
• The political impasse helps nobody. There is need for a people-driven Constitution which will pave the way for fresh elections.
• Former South African President and SADC-appointed Mediator, Thabo Mbeki has failed to mediate in a non-partisan manner. He should be removed as the SADC Mediator and replaced with a transitional arrangement acceptable to all parties engaged in the matter, including the people of Zimbabwe duly represented by civil society, the Churches and the private sector.

BOCISCOZ is not convinced that the GNU will enable the resolution of these urgent issues.  Currently SADC has chosen to hide behind the misplaced belief that this will be possible. Without the de-politicisation of the police force, reinstatement of respect for the judiciary and the rule of law and a stop to the unlawful detention of activists, the effectiveness of a GNU is highly questionable.

However, following the unanimous endorsement of the National Council of The Movement for Democratic Change -Tsvangirai Formation (MDC-T) today, of the decision of its President Morgan Tsvangirai to join ZANU-PF and The Movement for Democratic Change – Mutambara Formation (MDC -M) in a unity government, SADC and the AU should play a constructive role. As guarantors of the GNU they should develop clear, measurable outcomes within a specific timeframe. These should effect real and positive change to the urgent issues already articulated by civil society, currently affecting Zimbabweans. We recognise the establishment of the Joint-Monitoring Implementation Committee (JOMIC) in terms of the Global Political Agreement of 15 September 2008. However, BOCISCOZ remains convinced that there is need for SADC and the AU, to ensure that JOMIC excercises its mandate in an equitable manner.

30 January 2009

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