The former UN special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa is condemning a proposed peace settlement for Zimbabwe that calls for amnesty for President Robert Mugabe.
Stephen Lewis, founder of AIDS-Free World, says it would be illegal, irresponsible and sexist to grant Mugabe amnesty. He says President Mugabe should be brought to trial. Lewis spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua to further explain why he is against amnesty for the Zimbabwean leader.
“The proposal comes from the International Crisis Group, which has made some reputable suggestions in the past but [which] we think is entirely off-base in this instance. Look, Mugabe is a mass murderer. His hands are drenched in blood. Thousands of people have died at his command. There has been a terrible pattern of sexual violence and rape of women who have supported the opposition party. My own organization, AIDS-Free World, has taken affidavits from these women. The affidavits are a nightmare in their detail. We handed a summary of them over to the…commissioner for human rights of the UN in the hope that down the road they can be used for legal proceedings,” he says.
Lewis also says the lack of medical care stemming from the ongoing political and humanitarian crises in Zimbabwe has resulted in the deaths of thousands of people with HIV/AIDS. He adds, “They’re lined up at the border to get out. There’s a cholera epidemic which has taken over a thousand lives. You don’t start giving amnesty. It is a violation of international law.”
Some say it may be worth granting Mugabe amnesty to end the crises. But Lewis disagrees, saying, “That’s an illusion, you see, because the amnesty comes if you look at the detail with a hugely complicated procedure for internal reconciliation, which frankly probably won’t work. It has to come with a new international mediator because the previous mediator, the former president [Thabo] Mbeki of South Africa is entirely discredited…. And the truth is that if the surrounding southern Africa states were prepared to apply the appropriate pressure on Zimbabwe – close the border, end the trade, ask for Mugabe stepping down – they would have an end to the Zimbabwe crisis without an amnesty.”