Zimbabwe : Activists seek arms embargo and sacking Mbeki

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Flag of Zimbabwe
Flag of Zimbabwe

African civil rights activists have called for an urgent African Union (AU) Summit to take a decision on the post-election crisis in Zimbabwe, including replacing South African President Thabo Mbeki as chief broker in the political crisis.

The civil society organisations, among them, the Open Society for East Africa (OSEA), noted that the reaction of African countries to the Zimbabwean crisis had been wanting.

“Yours (President Mbeki) is see no evil, hear no evil and we regret it,” charged Mugambi Kiai, the Chairman of OSEA, at a news conference here Thursday.

Wilfred Muhanda, a Kenyan who campaigned for ages for Zimbabwe’s independence 28 years ago, accused the Zimbabwe government of lacking legitimacy and continuing on a campaign of violence against its citizens.

“The government in Zimbabwe should not be recognised. It has become a regime that is now waging a war against its people,” Muhanda said.

The rights activists spoke as Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa told journalists that Zimbabwe’s neighbours, including South Africa and Mozambique, would not allow a shipment of arms destined for Harare to dock in their ports.

The Chinese ship has been stranded in the high seas for several days with a shipment of ammunition. Reports indicate the ship may be recalled back to China.

“We are concerned about the 77 tonnes of ammunition that we have credibly learnt is destined for Zimbabwe. There would be a call from us soon on a global arms embargo on Zimbabwe,” Kiai told journalists, speaking on behalf of 21 different civil rights bodies.

The rights activists demanded the AU immediately take over from the South African Development Community (SADC), saying its leadership had failed to unite Zimbabwe.

“We are calling for an urgent session of AU. President Mbeki should be completely sidelined on the Zimbabwe crisis,” said Cyprian Nyamwamu, a Kenyan rights activist.

President Robert Mugabe’s government has defended itself against accusations that it has imported a huge shipment of arms to continue its violent crusade against the opposition.

Zimbabwean officials have previously said the government was within its limits to purchase arms from legal sources and de-linked the fresh purchase of arms to the current crisis, which has been sparked off by the failure to release the results of 29 March polls.

The AU is on record as demanding for an urgent release of the results to avoid possibility of an eruption of post-election violence.

Zimbabwe’s main opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), leadership was here last week to drum up support for an African Union engagement in the Zimbabwean crisis and accused the government of a “matrix of violence”.

MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti, who met Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, reiterated that a re-run of the presidential vote against President Mugabe would be a “tragic” development in Zimbabwe.

“Mugabe is the author of the crisis in Zimbabwe, where 25 per cent of the people are HIV/AIDS positive, women’s lifespan is 34 years against the males which is j ust 37 years and three million people are in the Diaspora, to have him contest a run-off vote is tragic,” Biti said.

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