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British MPs Advocate Cancellation Of Mnangagwa's Invitation To King Charles III's Coronation

10 months agoTue, 25 Apr 2023 13:24:10 GMT
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British MPs Advocate Cancellation Of Mnangagwa's Invitation To King Charles III's Coronation

The House of Lords in England is advocating for the cancellation of President Emmerson Mnangagwa‘s invitation to attend the coronation of King Charles III due to alleged human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

President Mnangagwa has accepted the invitation and sees it as a positive step towards improving relations between Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom. He met with UK Ambassador to Zimbabwe Melanie Robinson on April 17 to discuss the matter and also matters of trade and investment. Nevertheless, some British Members of Parliament believe that inviting the leader of Zimbabwe was a mistake. They said:

Kwekwe the previous day, Zimbabwe’s vice-president, Constantino Chiwenga, told the crowd that Zanu-PF would “crush the [CCC] party like lice”.

In October 2022, Bulawayo MP, Jasmine Toffa had her arms fractured in an attack by Zanu-PF supporters when she was campaigning for a local council candidate and there are regular reports of local party campaigners and councillors being attacked, tortured and murdered with direct incitement from Zanu-PF leaders.

This month on April 6th, Amnesty International shared a statement on the conviction of opposition party spokesperson, Fadzayi Mahere, saying, “The conviction of Fadzayi Mahere (on 5 April 2023) is a travesty of justice as it is based on a law that is no longer existent in Zimbabwe and applied to silence dissent. The legal provision that was used to convict Mahere was declared void by the Constitutional Court in 2014. The High Court confirmed this in another case in 2021. The Magistrate Court in this case should have taken note of the decisions of the upper courts and acquitted Mahere. The conviction and sentencing demonstrate the extent to which authorities are willing to go to muzzle critical voices and supress the right to freedom of expression. The authorities are sending a clear message that there is no space for exercising the right to freedom of expression in Zimbabwe.”

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A chilling recent development is the issuing of direct threats through the Twitter account of the President’s Office of Communication. The prominent Human Rights and Pro-Democracy advocate Makomborero Haruzivishe had a menacing tweet directed at him following his attendance at a House of Lords debate in January. Then again, just two weeks ago, when he spoke out about corruption, a further threat was tweeted “Do you remember when we sent a team to abduct you and you were begging for your life? We have agents in your location!!!!”. Both came from the account of George Charamba, Deputy Chief Secretary-Presidential Communications in the Office of the President of Zimbabwe. As President of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU), Makomborero Haruzivishe was the target of continuous intimidation and prosecutorial harassment, which included 37 arrests and detention without trial of eleven months.

2023 is already proving to be a year of heightened tension due to planned elections in July. Independent sources including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders, are recording rising levels of political repression, arbitrary and politically motivated arrests of elected opposition party members and intimidation of the press. At the same time, the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry, led by former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, which was established to investigate widespread violence in the aftermath of the August 2018 elections, have still not been implemented.

The Coronation invitation will inevitably be used by President Mnangagwa as tacit acceptance by the UK of publicly evidenced political violence and repression in the run-up to the forthcoming election and will be deeply demoralising to ordinary Zimbabweans in their struggle for democracy.

We, therefore, urge the government to withdraw President Mnangagwa’s invitation until Job Sikhala MP and other political prisoners are granted their constitutional right to bail and concrete actions are taken to address human rights abuses and guarantee free and fair elections.

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