South Africa “unequivocally stand in solidarity” with Zimbabwe, despite alleged human rights abuses.
This after DA MP Mat Cuthbert asked International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor in a written parliamentary question what the South African government’s position was on the economic sanctions placed on Zimbabwe by the US and European Union (EU), whether it supported a human rights-based foreign policy and whether the government stood in solidarity with the Zimbabwean government despite its alleged human rights abuses.
“Our stance toward Zimbabwe’s economic sanctions is primarily guided by the positions of the Southern African Development Community [SADC] and African Union, which calls for the immediate lifting of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the US and EU,” Pandor answered.
“South Africa’s foreign policy is premised on the observation and respect for human rights and this also guides our bilateral engagements.
“South Africa’s developmental aspirations and future are inextricably linked to that of the southern African region, as such South Africa unequivocally stands in solidarity with all SADC member states, including Zimbabwe. The UN Human Rights Council remains the UN’s mandated body to promote and protect human rights globally, not unilateral states’ decisions.”
In September, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, the UN special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, concluded a 10-day mission to Zimbabwe.
“I lament the loss of lives due to excessive use of force against protesters and urge the government to ensure a thorough and independent investigation of these events and the prosecution of those responsible.
“The repression of protesters, the attempt to ban protests, the excessive use of force and the restrictive application of legislation regulating the rights of freedom of peaceful assembly and association gravely overshadow efforts to democratically transform Zimbabwe,” he wrote in his statement on the mission.
Nyaletsossi Voule stated he had heard of “numerous cases of arbitrary detentions, cases of injury, torture and even the loss of innocent lives.
“I have also heard extremely disturbing reports of excessive, disproportionate and lethal use of force against protesters, through the use of tear gas, batons and live ammunition,” he wrote.
“I was shocked by the testimonies of victims who alleged they had been raped and sexually assaulted by military and police elements in the context of the protests.”
In August, international human rights watchdog Amnesty International said in a statement that during Emmerson Mnangagwa’s first year as president of Zimbabwe, he had “presided over a systematic and brutal crackdown on human rights, including the violent suppression of protests and a witch-hunt against anyone who dared challenge his government”.
“What we have witnessed in Zimbabwe since President Emmerson Mnangagwa took power is a ruthless attack on human rights, with the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association increasingly restricted and criminalised,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s deputy director for southern Africa, according to the statement.