Amnesty International, a global human rights watchdog, says Zimbabwe is still one of the countries in southern Africa with a high rate of human rights abuses, torture of pro-democracy voices, forced displacements and disregard of the law.
The organization launched its annual report in Johannesburg today and called on President Robert Mugabe, who chairs both the African Union and Southern African Development Community, to bring the rights abuses to an end in both the Southern African region and the African continent.
Amnesty International Regional Director Deprose Muchena told journalists in South Africa today that though there are no visible beatings and killings of dissenting voices in Zimbabwe, the country is now using sophisticated methods of oppression.
Muchena said the continued suppression of freedom of expression and association by using the country’s old laws despite the existence of the new constitution is a direct disregard of the law and deliberate form of state oppression.
Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International Deputy Regional Director, said the brutal beating and torture of journalist Itai Dzamara and others, who had gathered in Unity Square in Harare demanding the resignation of President Mugabe earlier this year, is clear evidence that the state’s repressive instruments are still in place.
Violent displacements of flood victims from Chingwizi camp in Masvingo province is one of the incidents highlighted in the report as an act of oppression against the Zimbabwean people.
Kututwa said as chairman of both African Union and Southern African Development Community (SADC), President Mugabe has an obligation to ensure that the culture of human rights is brought to an end.
Other countries in Africa were also criticized for human rights abuses in the report. Police brutality in South Africa also came in the spotlight. President Jacob Zuma’s government was also criticized for failing to stop the frequent attacks on foreigners by locals.
Swaziland also got its fair share of criticism for politically-motivated arrests and the use of draconian laws aimed and silencing dissent.
And Zambia was also criticized for failing to ensure maximum protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Responding to the Amnesty report accusations, Zanu PF Central Committee member, Paul Mangwana, told Studio 7’s Blessing Zulu the accusations are false.