A leading human rights group is calling on the African Union to suspend
Zimbabwe if its government does not end human rights abuses and
implement a power-sharing deal it agreed to last year. The call comes
amid rising criticism of stalled mediation efforts by southern African
Human Rights Watch says the lack of progress in
resolving Zimbabwe's political standoff is causing a deepening
humanitarian emergency and a regional crisis.
Zimbabwe researcher, Tiseke Kasambala, says broader African
intervention is needed because mediation efforts by the Southern
African Development Community, SADC, have failed to produce results.
would like to see the African Union step in to address the crisis and
take it to another level," said Kasambala. "Because we think there has
been a regional failure to address what we believe is actually a
Zimbabwe's deteriorating economy has driven
millions of citizens to flee to neighboring countries. A cholera
epidemic has killed 2,700 people in Zimbabwe and dozens more
around the region.
SADC is to hold an emergency summit Monday in
South Africa, one week after negotiations in Harare failed to break a
deadlock over a power-sharing agreement signed four months ago.
accord called for a unity government with President Robert Mugabe as
president and his rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, in the newly created post
of prime minister.
It aimed to end a political crisis that
erupted after elections last March. Mr. Tsvangirai won the first round
of the presidential vote but Mr. Mugabe won the second round after Mr.
Tsvangirai withdrew citing a campaign of violence against his
Kasambala accuses ZANU-PF of launching a program of
kidnappings and secret detentions of its opponents in order to sabotage
the power-sharing agreement. She says more than 40 human rights
activists and MDC supporters have been detained and tortured in recent
months yet this abuse has not been addressed by SADC mediators.
African leaders have not even mentioned their concern about what is
happening in the country in terms of the political repression," said
Kasambala. "So at the same time that we are seeing this humanitarian
crisis the political repression continues and has intensified."
says the United Nations and the AU should send human rights monitors
to Zimbabwe to investigate the human rights situation as well as the
root causes of the humanitarian crisis which she blames on the Zimbabwe
In South Africa activists led by retired Archbishop
Desmond Tutu have begun a series of hunger strikes in sympathy with the
At the launch of the civic campaign
Wednesday, rights activist Graca Machel, wife of former president
Nelson Mandela, called the Mugabe government illegitimate and said
African leaders had taken too long to do something about it.
of them [leaders] in this region, they are in government out [because]
of our vote which was given by the millions of citizens of SADC," she
said. "That mandate requires them to stop the suffering and the death
in Zimbabwe. "
The MDC has expressed frustration with SADC's
mediation, saying it favors ZANU-PF. Mr. Mugabe has threatened to form
a new government alone if the MDC does not join in.
hardening of positions, both sides have expressed a willingness to
continue talking and hope for a successful outcome.