Nick Mangwana Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services
The Government of Zimbabwe has taken note of the Joint Local Statement issued on August 20, 2019, by the Heads of Delegation of the European Union, France, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, and the United Kingdom together with Heads of Mission of the United States, Canada and Australia (Missions) on human rights and freedom of assembly in Zimbabwe following illegal demonstrations staged by sections of the Zimbabwean opposition on August 16, 2019.
The Government of Zimbabwe is taken aback by the intrusive and judgmental attitude displayed by the Missions and the shocking partisanship informing the joint statement with respect to the situation in Zimbabwe.
The statement by the Missions fails to acknowledge that the High Court made a well-considered judgment on the legality of the demonstrations by the opposition MDC-Alliance after the Zimbabwe Republic Police — as the regulatory authority — proscribed the intended actions on August 16, through a Prohibition Order.
The effect of both the Prohibition Order and the High Court decision that upheld it, was to render any and all activities associated with the planned demonstrations by MDC-Alliance on August 16, 2019 illegal.
We, therefore, note with concern that the Missions’ statement appears not to acknowledge this position of the law.
A disturbing suggestion from the statement is that our courts should not have made the judgment and that illegalities were supposed to manifest and left unchecked.
We find it quite strange and bewildering and an offence on the principle of the rule of law that countries represented by the Missions want so much to preach about.
It is disappointing that we are presented with a statement that ignores the importance of upholding both the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the rule of law.
Our Judiciary sits as the arbiter in situations of conflict, and in this case mediating between a regulatory authority and constitutional freedoms of citizens in the face of a potentially violent and destabilising demonstration.
A decision was made, which ought to have been respected by all.
It is instructive to note that up to the point of the Missions’ statement being issued, the police were not in contempt of any court order regarding the issue of protests and demonstrations, neither had a suit of such nature been brought forward.
For the foreign Missions to totally ignore the fact that the Zimbabwean courts had spoken on this matter suggests a contemptuous attitude towards our institutions, including the Judiciary.
Government of Zimbabwe expects those countries committed to supporting the freedom of expression, association and assembly — seen as facets for a politically stable, economically stable and prosperous Zimbabwe — to exercise impartiality and not to unduly interfere in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe in a way that promotes unrest and public disorder unless they harbour an ulterior motive.
Zimbabwe remains committed to carrying out reforms necessary for addressing the political, social and economic challenges in the country.
In this vein, Government is open to engaging its partners in the international community on best ways of implementing the reforms.
However, Government believes that re-engagement and dialogue should be conducted in the spirit of mutual respect and should not be in any way prescriptive, coercive or manipulative.
Regarding national dialogue, the door remains open to all political players to converge in the national interest and this process is currently underway under the aegis of the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD).
This is a platform that remains open for the people of Zimbabwe to exchange ideas and craft a new inclusive political dispensation.