Urgent Appeal for International Intervention & Transitional Authority in Zimbabwe

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We, the People of Zimbabwe, at home and abroad and the friends of the Citizens of Zimbabwe,  launch this appeal to the International Community for an immediate intervention to avert an apocalypse in our motherland. We speak on behalf of millions of citizens, who live in fear and have been silenced. There is grave concern about an escalation leading to a disaster of incalculable magnitude. On grounds of particular urgency, we see our cause justfied in reaching out to the International Community and exempt from the mandatory chains of appeal through SADC and the AU.

It can justly be said that the current situation in Zimbabwe is catastrophic.

Following decades on the tipping point precipice, State Government under ZanuPf has lost control on all fronts and on every level. What remains is economic, fiscal, social and political mayhem and the imminent threat of a deadly crackdown on unarmed citizens.

There are clear indicators that the military dictatorship implements – and will continue to implement – its policy of failure, destruction, intimidation, liquidation and annihilation with unabated intensity.

The facts speak for themselves:

1) Economic meltdown:
The fiscal deficit has spun out of control, domestic debt has exploded and balances of an electronic form of money now called the RTGS $ (dollar) had already reached a staggering $23 billion by June 2018 and has worsened. Spiralling devaluation of the electronic surrogate has seen it drop from initial 1:1 on the US$ to presently 1:8 in the defining parallel market.  There are acute cash shortages made worse by the ruling party‘s drainage of cash from the system – by withdrawing money from the central bank reserves and issuing IOUs in return. „The annual inflation rate in Zimbabwe soared to 75.86% in April 2019 from 66.8% in the prior month.“ (Source Trading Economics) IOL News South Africa cites an inflation rate of 290% for May 2019. Commodities are in critically short supply and subject to horrendous price hikes – as much as 100% within 10 days for basics like bread, sugar and maize meal, making these basics unaffordable for the large majority. To make matters worse, the government introduced a Transaction Tax increase which is targetted to skim maximal dividends from the yearly 3 billion Diaspora remittance – without which our families and loved ones would not have survived.

2) Corruption:
It is common knowledge that corruption is rampant and ongoing in Zimbabwe, leading to a small elite being counted amongst the wealthiest on the continent, whilst poverty levels in the population soar. As of 2018, 72% of Zimbabweans were living under the poverty datum line – this proportion is significantly higher now. Corruption is not being curbed by the acclaimed ‚new dispensation‘, to the contrary it appears to be on the rise. On a scale from 0 (=highly corrupt) to 100 (=very clean), Zimbabwe scored 22 on the Corruption Perceptions Index and ranked 160th out of 180 countries in 2018 – having sunk 3 ranks from 157th in 2017 and 6 ranks from 154th in 2016. Observers on the ground report a general sense of panic as key players appear to grab frantically at what they can get their hands on, before being forced to relinquish power and their privileged access to substantial funds. This week news broke that more than US$700.000 disbursed by FIFA to Zimbabwean Football Association (Zifa) has gone missing. This malpractice is not contained within government, military sycophants and parastatals, but subsidiaries of international NGOs are also implicated. Amnesty International has shut down its Zimbabwe branch over alleged abuse of donor funds and fraud by staff. Investigations have been launched.     

3) Widespread neglect, failure to meet public service obligations and threat to public health:
The capital city, Harare, is without water and if there were water, the clarification systems would be rendered useless as lack of foreign currency makes sourcing of the necessary chemicals impossible. There are at present extensive power outages and the situation is set to deteriorate as Zimbabwe's largest hydro-electric power plant has warned it could suspend electricity output completely if water levels at the Kariba dam continue to fall. The government is in arrears with an amount in the region of $200 million. Only if this debt is redeemed could electricity imports from South Africa be resumed.

Zimbabwe is facing a humanitarian crisis of massive proportions, with almost half the population, facing hunger. An outbreak of cholera, the result of the breakdown of basic water and sanitation services, killed people in 2018 and is predicted to re-emerge, as reports of raw sewage being redirected into the capital's main water reservoir surface. 

Zimbabwe has a 30-year infrastructure deficit. On implementation of the plans already set by the previous UDI government, urban and regional development has stagnated. Roads are potholed, bridges are a life hazard, dams are damaged and sewage flows alongside neglected little houses in the deprived urban areas.  No attempt has been made to provide housing or to extend facilities (amenities, utilities, schools, hospitals, transport) for the growing urban population following the rural exodus triggered by the collapse of Zimbabwe’s agricultural industry.  Since three decades, neglect, stagnation and deprivation rule the day, whilst ZanuPf ‚leaders‘ feed their whims and fancies – the President broke ground for a new parliament building to be erected with funds (100 million) supplied by China.

4) The fuel crisis:
The crisis deepens as Zimbabweans queue and wait for the fuel they will, with highest probability, never receive and probably cannot afford as price hikes prevail. On the 21st May the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority increased fuel prices by 46% for petrol and 49% for diesel, setting the price for petrol at RTGS$4.97, up from RTGS$3.36 and a litre of diesel at RTGS$4.89, up from RTGS$3.22. The fuel shortage and astonomical pricing can be relayed to the very high margins being demanded by monopolists and cartels at the wholesale level. The ill-gotten premiums, shared with political players and other persons of influence are banked externally, perpetuating the cash drain crisis.

5) Alarming unemployment:
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions estimates unemployment at 90% - if subsistence farmers (who consume what they produce) and vendors are included in the number of unemployed. Vendors should rightly be included as they are now without any means of income and survival, following the vicious crackdown by the ZanuPf government on the informal economy. Vendors self-erected stalls were destroyed by uniformed soldiers in August of 2018 and a repeat was executed in February of this year when market sites in poverty-stricken areas were mowed down.

6) Underpayment and unionist action:
Trade unionist action is ongoing since the beginning of this year. Government is not able to deliver on its contractual commitments to civil servants, which obligates that salaries be paid in US Dollars. To exemplify, at the moment teachers‘ salaries have been reduced to the equivalent of US$100 per month. Salaries are so eroded, that civil servants cannot afford to buy food or pay school fees for their own children. Response to the strikes has been violent and union leaders have been arrested, beaten, incarcerated and brought before the courts on criminal charges.

 

Against the backdrop of an unsustainable livelihood in an hostile environment, citizens witness with growing concern the closure of the democratic space.

7) Arrest of civil society activists:
Seven pro-democracy campaigners were arrested very recently, denied bail and charged with treason. CANVAS (Center for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies) has released this statement in defense of the accused:

„The Center for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) firmly condemns the illegal arrest of seven (7) Zimbabwean civil society activists on their way home from attending a training workshop organized by CANVAS in the Maldives from May 15 to 19, 2019. All of them have been denied bail so far. Six are remanded in person. The seventh person has serious health issues – she is remanded in a public hospital and denied the right to seek treatment in her preferred private clinic. Their names are George Makoni, Nyasha Frank Mpahlo, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Gamuchirai Mukura, Farirai Gumbonzvanda, Stabile Dewa, and Rita Nyampinga. During the workshop, the State-controlled newspaper, The Herald, published an article that falsely accused participants of plotting to unleash violence in Zimbabwe in a bid to overthrow the Government.
CANVAS would like to inform Zimbabweans and the international community that the charges against these activists are blatantly false. The charges include: “subversion”, “counterintelligence”, and “being trained in use of small arms”. The activists could face up to twenty years in prison for these charges. The workshop focused on advocacy and civic engagement capacity building such as: Developing Shared Vision of Tomorrow; Civic Engagement; Effective Communications; Protecting Privacy and Security; and Organizational Planning.
For a decade and a half, CANVAS’ mission has been focused on the fact that nonviolence is morally and ethically superior to violence, and more likely to produce constructive outcomes and build strong and stable societies.
The arrests clearly violate provisions of the Zimbabwean Constitution on freedom of assembly and expression, and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. Basic universal principles of due process, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and conducting an unbiased investigation before arrest need to be upheld.
As long as the Government continues to violate the fundamental rights the constitution confers to Zimbabweans, it will not be seen by citizens and the international community as democratic or law abiding.
CANVAS calls on the Government of Zimbabwe to immediately and unconditionally release the seven (7) activists and follow the rule of law.
Participation in a workshop with a focus on peace building and nonviolence should never be considered a crime, as the practice of nonviolence and peaceful assembly are fundamental human rights.“

As of reports yesterday (5th June 2019) visitors were not permitted access to Stabile Dewa.


8) New bill to criminalize peaceful protest:
Yesterday, Mnangagwa signed into law the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) Bill which outlaws stay-aways, strikes and protests before exhausting other avenues – as in negotiation channels with government and other stakeholders. The implication is grave.

9) Trade union leader abducted and tortured:
In assertion of the newly constitutionalized illegitimacy of peaceful protest, security agents abducted Masaraure Obert, the president of Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) in the early hours of this morning, just after midnight (6th June 2019) in full view of his wife and children. They tortured him for several hours and left him for dead, throwing his unconscious body out naked in a field off the Seke Road. It is winter in Zimbabwe now, night temperatures fall to 5 degrees Centigrade. 

10) Escalation:
A series of fatal 'freak accidents', carrying the ZanuPf signature (as witnessed under Mugabe's vicious rule) has taken the lives of more activists for democracy, among them the daughter of the deceased leader of the opposition MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai - her name Vimbai Tsvangirai-Java.   

Besides the factors outlined above, making for insufferable conditions for the citizens of Zimbabwe, there is an added dimension with chilling inference.

11) The military-industrial cartel:
Vote rigging and voter intimidation was on the ZanuPf agenda right from the beginning - we draw your attention to a letter sent to the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, in March 1980 in which George Peter Walls, in his capacity as Commanding Officer of the Zimbabwe National Army, writes:
" .. reports from all around the country indicate that massive intimidation makes a victory by Mugabe the most likely if not inevitable result of the election."

In an interview of April 2014, former president, Robert Mugabe, publically conceded his election defeat of 2008, admitting that Tsvangirai won with 73% of the vote. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dx6ZMZPk1QM
Mugabe was ‚prompted‘ to retain power by the cartel so as to secure their continued supremacy over Zimbabwe. The same group orchestrated the fall of Mugabe and the ascendency of Mnangagwa. It is open knowledge that the results of Zimbabwe’s last elections of June 2018 were manipulated under the supervision of VP Chiwenga acting for the cartel on learning that the oppositional MDC Alliance leader, Chamisa, was due to emerge as the victor.

This oligarchy is intrinsically connected to senior politicians, the army, intelligence, the judiciary, parastatals and banks. It controls imports and allocation of foreign currency and key commodities as well as the gold and diamond markets.

It is clear that Mnangagwa has failed in every aspect of his ‚open for business new dispensation‘ claim. The population had hoped for change and relief from desparation, but now realise that this is another unfulfilled promise as the situation rapidly deteriorates and propensity to unrest grows. This makes recent media reports suggesting a plot by the cartel to topple Mnangagwa all the more credible and realistic. The cartel is reported to want to replace him with a man (probably a general with military creditionals) of their choice. The rationale behind this decision, which insiders consider realistic, is that the People of Zimbabwe might rise in an attempt to overthrow the government. This would mean that the cartel would lose all control and all the assets it now monopolizes. Pre-empting such an upheavel, the cartel manoeuvres towards a new figurehead. 

We are not in a position to verify whether ZanuPf is engulfed in infighting. Whether the plot is real or a strategic ploy to legitimate violent reactions from soldiers awaits to be revealed, BUT what we do know with certainty is that an undeclared state of emergency exists in Zimbabwe.

This was written in June and will be actualized in the next days to depict further deterioration and enhanced urgency of our Zimbabwean situation. 

We, the People of Zimbabwe, as a matter of urgency, appeal to the International Community to initiate steps for immediate intervention. We see a catastrophe looming and loss of life. We cannot stand by and wait for the military to murder unarmed citizens. It has happened before, it is going to happen very soon again, if the International Community remains passive.

Remembering the genocide of the 80ies, the murders of 2000 and 2008, the many cases of torture and disappearances (Itai Dzamara), we now request with urgency international intervention to break the cycle of violence, to halt the inpending crackdown and install a Transitional Authority, which would serve to usher in free and fair elections leading to a new democratic era. 

Friends of the People of Zimbabwe please support our cause. Thank you.