from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – AFTER the Southern African Development Community (SADC) approved the deployment of a military force to restore peace and security in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), civil society organizations in the region have urged leaders to show similar commitment to other crises in the region.
The Southern African People’s Solidarity Network (SAPSN) and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) made the appeal after the leaders met in Namibia in an effort to end the incessant conflict in the eastern parts of DRC.
The organizations welcomed the deployment of troops but said SADC must also focus on other “burning hotspots.”
“We further call upon SADC leaders to demonstrate similar fortitude towards resolving other conflicts that are happening in other parts of the region in particular Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.”
SAPSN and CiZC believe upcoming elections in these conflicted countries present serious risks for the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms by citizens and dissenting voices.
“We therefore urge SADC leaders to do more to ensure adherence to SADC’S own principles and guidelines governing democratic elections.”
Among issues they want resolved is the murder of Thulani Maseko, a human rights advocate and Chairperson of the Swaziland Multistakeholder Forum.
Alleged state hit men murdered him in January at his home.
“… the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini must ensure that the killing of Mr. Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice,” Sadc Organ Chairperson, Namibian President, Hage Geingob, stated then.
No arrests have been made.
It is reported that since the death of Maseko, at least 11 activists have been abducted and murdered by alleged mercenaries.
In Zimbabwe, the ruling party, Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) is accused of abusing opponents and critics.
“It is in the best interest of SADC to protect its citizens, rather than shield leaders who abuse citizens and trample on democratic norms and processes,” SAPSN and CiZC stated.
Mozambique is facing an insurgency by Islamist groups.
SADC is a 16-member regional bloc comprising Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Eswatini, DRC, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
– CAJ News