Thursday, January 05, 2006

Opposition hails AU report on Zimbabwe

Cape Town, South Africa
04 January 2006 05:55

An African Union (AU) report condemning Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's human rights record has been hailed by South Africa's official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA).

The report of the African Union's Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights -- meeting in Banjul, The Gambia -- has urged Mugabe to allow an AU delegation to go on a fact-finding mission to his country.

It also expressed concern at the continuing violations and the deteriorations of the human rights situation in Zimbabwe. It said there was a "growing culture of impunity".

The report referred to the violations of fundamental and collective rights resulting from forced evictions being carried out by the Zimbabwe government.

The commission found that Mugabe's government was responsible for violating the African Union charter -- which Zimbabwe had signed -- and the United Nations declaration of human rights.

In a statement on Wednesday, DA national chairperson Joe Seremane, a member of Parliament, said there was a growing consensus among the African community of nations "that human rights, accountability and good governance must be placed above the politics of tyranny".

Seremane noted that the report called for an end to internal displacements caused by government evictions, the repeal of several repressive laws and free access for international aid groups.

The DA said South African President Thabo Mbeki must take stock of these findings and adjust South Africa's strategy for dealing with Zimbabwe accordingly.

"We must use whatever diplomatic means are at our disposal, whether multilaterally through the AU and United Nations, or unilaterally, to pressure the Mugabe regime into ceasing its attacks on human rights and the rule of law. South Africa must unequivocally condemn the human rights abuses as well as the muzzling of the media and free political activity in Zimbabwe, even if only to affirm our own democratic values. If we fail to do so we will have failed the people of Zimbabwe, as well as ourselves," said Seremane. - I-Net Bridge