BY GLADYS KUDZAISHE HLATWAYO.
Today is Africa Day.
As a proud daughter of Africa and Pan-African, I would like to join the rest of the continent in celebrating Africa Day, albeit under extremely difficult circumstances as the continent and the rest of the world is grappling with COVID-19.
My solidarity goes out to each and every African country.
This day is celebrated every 25th of May across the continent and this year’s celebrations mark the 57th Anniversary of the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of the African Union (AU).
This year’s Africa Day celebrations are also in the context of the African Union theme for 2020 ‘Silencing the Guns: Creating a Conducive Environment for Africa’s Development’
The OAU was established on 25 May 1963 with the main aim of eradicating colonialism in Africa.
The OAU was later transformed into the AU on 9 July 2002 as the continent refocused from decolonisation to increased cooperation and integration of African States to drive Africa’s growth and economic development.
To date, the 55 member continental body is guided by Agenda 2063; a strategic framework for Africa’s long term socio-economic transformation to ensure the attainment of the Pan African vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.
The African Heads of States and Governments also signed the 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration in 2013 committing themselves to good governance, rule of law, democracy, respect for human rights, regional solidarity, promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women and youth.
As a proud daughter of Africa, I salute the Pan African vision of our continent’s founding fathers that include Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia and Sam Nujoma of Namibia among others, who saw it prudent to create a vehicle for African unity and solidarity at a time that the majority of African countries were under the shackles of colonialism and apartheid.
On this special day, it is indeed time for all the AU member states including Zimbabwe to self introspect, commit to Agenda 2063 and to take all measures necessary to create a conducive environment for development.
With specific reference to Zimbabwe, I am deeply concerned by the increased reports of state sponsored human rights violations including abductions, sexual assaults, police brutality, extrajudicial killings and arbitrary arrests targeting members of our party, journalists, Human Rights Defenders, trade unions and members of Civic Society Organisations.
On the 13th of May 2020, three MDC Alliance women youth leaders: Hon Joana Mamombe, Cecelia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova were abducted from police custody in Harare, tortured, sexually assaulted and dumped in Bindura, about 90kms from the capital.
This latest abduction is not isolated as the MDC Alliance has recorded 49 abductions since August 2018.
During this lockdown period, two sisters from Bulawayo: Nokhuthula and Ntombizodwa Ncube were brutally assaulted for allegedly violating lockdown measures.
Two young men Levison Ncube and Paul Munakopa in Bulawayo were also killed by the police for allegedly violating the same restrictions.The former died of haemorrhage and head trauma after being heavily assaulted by the police whilst the latter was shot in cold blood by the police.
It is my considered view that ZANU PF has long deviated from the founding Pan African values and principles of the AU as coded in the Constitutive Act and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights including protection and promotion of human rights, consolidation of democratic institutions and culture, ensuring good governance and the rule of law.
Further, grand corruption, patronage and state capture by cartels at the expense of the suffering citizens are indicative of how the Harare regime has long abandoned the guiding principles of selflessness, transparency and accountability as espoused by Africa’s founding fathers.
Due to such decomposition of the political, manifesting itself in human rights abuses and socio-economic problems, the MDC Alliance has consistently called for an urgent resolution of the political crisis through a genuine political dialogue to achieve comprehensive reforms.
Indeed, it is only through such a process that Zimbabwe will recommit itself to the founding values of the AU anchored on the respect for human rights, good governance and rule of law.
Gladys Kudzaishe Hlatywayo is the Secretary for International Relations for the MDC Alliance. She writes here in her personal capacity.