People’s Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti, who is also a member of the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance, yesterday told the United States Foreign Relations Committee that although Zimbabweans had welcomed the end of Robert Mugabe’s rule what had essentially happened was an illegal and illegitimate transfer of power from one faction of the ruling party to another.
The new authorities must, therefore, show signs of a commitment to real transformation other than cosmetic statements on the economy because there was a real danger that they will pursue a Beijing model, in the respect of which there are nominal improvements on the economy while political space is closed and democracy is muzzled.
To show their commitment to change, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration could:
- begin by openly acknowledging and apologizing for the major human rights abuses of the past four decades, in particular the massacres in Matabeleland known as Gukurahundi, the illegal and inhumane urban land clearances of Operation Murambatsvina, and the vicious 2008 post election violence against the opposition and ordinary citizens.
- order an inquiry into the disappearance of human rights activists, including Patrick Nabanyama and Itai Dzamara, who has been missing since March 2015.
- mollify many Zimbabweans by ordering a judicial inquiry into Zimbabwe’s missing diamond revenues, estimated to be around $15 billion.
“We have lost a lot of time in Zimbabwe, fighting amongst ourselves. One hopes that the fresh beam of light that we saw on 18 November 2017 becomes a permanent bright shining star that shows us the path forward,” he said.
“Zimbabweans must fix our own country and repair the wounds of the past. But we can’t do this alone.
“As Zimbabwe begins this quest for transformation, it will need the support of the international community, including the United States and Congress in particular, at this crucial stage.
“We ask the international community and the US to keep us in your hearts. Do not allow our country to be forgotten in our battle against tyranny and poverty and for democracy and human rights. Our election requires active support and oversight from the international community, including our American friends,” he said.
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