Advertisement

Catholic Professionals in Africa Express Support for #ZimbabweanLivesMatter Campaign

ZimbabweanLivesMatter online Campaign.

Catholic Professionals in Africa have expressed their solidarity with the ongoing #ZimbabweanLivesMatter campaign against the reported “atrocious and tragic campaign of human rights violations” in the Southern African nation.

In a statement issued under the auspices of  the International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs, Pax Romana Africa–ICMICA, the group of Professionals call on global and regional intergovernmental organizations to hold the Zimbabwean government responsible for the atrocities. 

“We in Pax Romana Africa stand in solidarity with the rest of the world and in particular, join our voices with those of the Zimbabwean Lives Matter Movement call upon the Zimbabwean government to end its brutal, dehumanizing, degrading and evil treatment of its own people,” the Professionals say in the August 11 statement obtained by ACI Africa.

The members of the global community of Catholic intellectuals and professionals add in the 5-page statement, “We stand in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe as they seek justice and good governance in their Country.”

The government of Zimbabwe under the leadership of President Emmerson Mnangagwa has come under heavy criticism for perpetrating human rights abuses characterized by forced disappearances, arrests, abductions and torture of the administration’s critics, according to media reports.

Advertisement

A government crackdown on peaceful protesters and the arrests of several high profile opposition figures, activists, journalists and writers in recent weeks inspired the online campaign driven under the Twitter hashtag #ZimbabweanLivesMatter.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) reported that at least 60 people were arrested following the botched mass demonstration against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government on July 31.

Criticism from global leaders has not deterred the government from carrying out the crackdown, the Head of State vowing to overcome the attempts by “a few rogue Zimbabweans” to destabilize the country in “league with foreign detractors.”

In the August 11 statement signed by the Vice President of Pax Romana ICMICA Africa, Dr. Frederick Wamalwa, the Professionals term the onslaught on activists and journalists as “abhorrent.”

“The people of Zimbabwe are living within a system of governance that perpetuates institutional and direct violence against its citizens,” the Professionals bemoan.

More in Africa

They say that “since coming into power in 2018, the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa has overseen the killing, unconstitutional incarceration, maiming, torture and harassment of numerous citizens who are perceived to be against the government of the day.”

The present government has resorted to the “militarization of all key institutions in the country,” a move the Professionals say has “created a system where prison cells are housing for those being punished for speaking against mal governance, corruption and state violence.”

They lament the fact that basic services, job opportunities, affordable and decent education, accessible healthcare, the right to food and equal access to thrive “have become reserved for the rich, the wealthy and politically connected.”

“In the midst of a global health pandemic, this normalized inequality has only increased the suffering of the ordinary citizen and increased profits for few elites,” the Professionals decry.

They continue, “When asked to do more for the ordinary citizens and save lives in the form of healthcare and COVID-19 relief packages, the President has labelled all people asking and demonstrating for change as 'dark forces, terrorists and bad apples' who should be 'flushed out'.”

Advertisement

As members of an African faith-based organization that advocates for the respect of the human rights of all people, the Professionals say they are “appalled by these actions by the Government of Zimbabwe which seem to take us many steps back as a continent.”

As a way forward, the members of Pax Romana Africa–ICMICA call on the Zimbabwean government to adhere to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which it is  a signatory and thus bound to “observe respect for human rights for its people”

In their recommendations, the Professionals call on the Zimbabwean government to take decisive measures to end embezzlement of public funds, make efforts to alleviate the suffering being experienced in the country, and desist from violating the human rights of its citizens.

They also recommend the “unconditional and unequivocal” release of all political prisoners and a review of all politically-instigated court cases, as well as an immediate end to the criminalization and militarization as a response to people’s clamour for change.

The Professionals urge the Southern African Development Community (SADC) “to play a proactive role in the Zimbabwean situation and stop non-intervention policy.”

They further call upon the African Union (AU) to “review what is happening in Zimbabwe before it escalates and condemn the government on account of its undemocratic actions.” 

To the leadership of the United Nations (UN), the Catholic Professionals say, “Take the necessary measures to bring the Zimbabwean government to account for the human rights violations that it has perpetrated over the last three years.”