Whither democracy and human rights in SADC?: COVID-19, lockdowns and basic rights

COMMUNIQUE OF THE THIRD ANNUAL REGIONAL SUMMIT OF CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS ON DEMOCRACY

 

  1. The 3rd Annual Regional Summit of Civil Society Organisations hosted by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition was held virtually on the 29th of September 2020 under the theme  “Whither democracy and human rights in SADC?: COVID-19, lockdowns and basic rights.”

 

  1. Summit was attended by representatives from Civil Society leaders from across the SADC region.

 

  1. Summit expressed concern about the continued shrinking of democratic space in the SADC region, in particular the entrenchment of authoritarian rule in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania and eSwatini, and the worrying presence of vigilante groups in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique.

 

  1. Summit noted how Covid19 pandemic has slowed down economic growth in the region and how governments have used the pandemic as a pretext to curtail civil and political, social and economic rights.

 

  1. Summit acknowledged the importance of people to people solidarity amongst regional social movements and civil society activists in order to foster and entrench a culture of respect for human rights and constitutionalism.

 

  1. Summit expressed deep concern on the worrying trends of state capture by the military and oligarchs in Zimbabwe and other countries and subversion of the rule of law.

 

  1. Summit noted that Covid19 has affected food security in the region and that SADC governments should mobilize resources collectively in order to cushion citizens particularly in the food security, health and education sector.

 

 

  1. Summit urged citizens to continue holding their governments in the SADC region accountable especially on corruption and upscale regional advocacy initiatives against  corruption.

 

  1. Summit urged governments and stakeholders to urgently address gender based violence during this Covid19 pandemic lockdown period.

 

  1. Summit agreed that there is a need for continuous conversations, collaborative actions within solidarity networks and civil society in the region to entrench cooperation, mutual understanding and amplification of civil society work in the region.

 

  1. Summit called on regional solidarity partners, civil society, for increased solidarity targeted at hotspots in the region with a particular but with specific focus on countries like Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania and ESwatini.

 

  1. Summit recommended the establishment of a central coordination and administration hub for regional solidarity work to ensure sustainable advocacy program in the region.

 

  1. Summit recommended that there is urgent need to capacitate  social movements in order to enhance the presence of citizens movements to counter the regional brotherhood approach entrenched and promoted by governments in the region.

 

  1. Summit recommended to the SADC Heads of State for the re-establishment of the SADC Tribunal and the setting up of a SADC Human Rights Commission which will address issues relating to human rights abuses in the region should be established at SADC level.

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