Collen Chamunorwa Correspondent
One of the International Criminal Court (ICC) roles is to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes is onerous and by no means a light matter, but when one of the small South African opposition parties, Democratic Alliance, mentions ICC and Zimbabwe in one sentence, then there is no better response than to laugh at such levels of mischief and ignorance.
Media reports show that the Democratic Alliance has made calls for the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, to “intervene directly” in Zimbabwe or else they will report the country to the ICC to conduct preliminary investigations into their allegations of human rights violations. Equally, in the United Kingdom, it has been reported that the UK Time party has appealed to their government to suspend aid to Zimbabwe. These suggestions are not only laughable but should be dismissed with the contempt they deserve.
In addition to these external actors displaying their ignorance, their actions also expose their interests in efforts to destabilise Zimbabwe. For the sake of clarity and possibly to educate these misguided external actors as well as their local and international sympathisers, there is no situation that warrants the involvement of the ICC or attention of other external actors in Zimbabwe.
The facts are very clear that on Monday January 14, the MDC Alliance and its local affiliates working in cahoots with external actors hatched a plan to carry out act of violence to destabilise Zimbabwe under the guise of a “stayaway”. The violence by these armed gangs resulted in the death of a police officer, injury of innocent citizens including members from the security forces and extensive damage to property.
The Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) Act of 2013 under Chapter 4, Part 2, provides for fundamental human rights and freedoms. Sections 58 to 61 particularly provide for freedoms related to political participation. The freedoms guaranteed are: freedom of assembly and association (58), freedom to demonstrate and petition (59), freedom of conscience (60) and freedom of expression and freedom of the media (61). The Second Republic under the leadership of President Mnangagwa has guaranteed these freedoms and this has seen many groups freely exercising their rights to peaceful demonstrations.
While the Constitution is explicit on these political freedoms, it also acknowledges that the freedoms are not absolute thus they have to be exercised within certain limits. Section 61 (5) of the Constitution clearly states that the freedom of expression and freedom of the media shall not include incitement to violence, advocacy of hatred or hate speech, malicious injury to a person’s reputation and malicious or unwanted breach of a person’s right to privacy. Further, Chapter 4 (Part 5) on the limitation of fundamental human rights and freedoms outlines the considerations that limit certain freedoms and these include the rights of other citizens, defence, public safety, public order and public interest.
It is very clear from these provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe that the actions by the MDC Alliance gangs violated public safety, public order and the rights of other citizens to go about their daily routines. If indeed the DA, UK Time party, the so-called human rights organisations and the private media were truly concerned about human rights, why then have they not condemned the MDC Alliance for human rights violations after the orgy of violence unleashed on innocent citizens on January 14.
The responses by the security forces are within the confines of the laws of Zimbabwe and should be applauded by all those who genuinely want to see the rule of law and governance in Zimbabwe. Guided by the laws of Zimbabwe, all arrested criminals have been charged with some already convicted for the crimes they committed. Peace and stability have been restored in all parts of Zimbabwe and calls for the release of these perpetrators of violence cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be presented as a genuine fight for ‘human rights’.
Another important point that must be made clear to these actors is that there is no country that has any say in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe. This right is enshrined in the United Nations Charter, Article 2 (7) and all attempts to interfere are therefore in direct violation of this provision. Over the years, many countries have sought to sidestep this provision by using the so called Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), aid as well as the threat and use of illegal sanctions in order to interfere in the domestic affairs of developing countries such as Zimbabwe. In addition, the ICC has also been exposed as one of the tools used selectively by the Western countries to target and victimize Africans, hence the call by the African Union in 2017 for African countries to withdraw from the discredited international body.
One takeaway from the events of January 14 and its aftermath is the reminder that neo-colonialism is real and the neo-colonial forces will always seek to reverse our gains. However, despite these concerted efforts, the people of Zimbabwe have a proven resilience and it is this determination of our citizens, the discipline of our security forces and wise leadership that will ensure that Zimbabwe remains peaceful and attains the vision to be a middle income country by 2030.