Jan 12, 2002

ZIMBABWE: SADOCC appelliert an SADC-Gipfeltreffen in Malawi

Zwei Tage vor dem Gipfeltreffen der Southern African Development Community’s Summit über Zimbabwe, welcher am Montag, den 14. Jänner in Malawi beginnen soll, appellierte das Southern Africa Documentation and Cooperation Centre (SADOCC) in Wien an Malawis Außenministerin, Lilian Patel:

Your Excellency,

we are writing to you on behalf of the Southern Africa Documentation and Co-operation Centre in Vienna, the successor body to the Anti-Apartheid Movement in Austria. As a movement mobilising and representing progressive internationalist opinion within the Austrian public, we have a long history of solidarity with the people of Southern Africa in their struggle for democratic self-government.

Since the end of apartheid we have continued to work closely with the governments and people of the region to challenge Northern pessimism about peace, democracy and development in Africa. Our main focus is on lobbying the Austrian Government, the EU and the UN to secure progressive policies towards the region. However, the current situation in Zimbabwe is giving great anxiety to international friends of Zimbabwe and of SADC.

We are therefore writing to you to express our concerns that the hard-won gains of the liberation struggle are under threat from the ongoing violent suppression of fundamental democratic rights in Zimbabwe. We are also deeply concerned about the impact of the situation on the stability and welfare of the entire region.

In addition, the ability of Zimbabweans to exercise their democratic rights in the forthcoming elections has been seriously undermined by recent worrying developments including:

  • Threats, emanating from the Zimbabwean military establishment, of a post-election coup should the current government fail to secure an electoral mandate.
  • The increasing use of government-trained militias, who have launched a violent campaign of intimidation of opposition forces as well as the general population.
  • The raft of repressive legislation, including draconian security laws and curbs on the press,
  • the amendment of the electoral legislation and the continuing threat of repressive labour relations legislation.

Solidarity groups like ours will continue to lobby governments and international financial institutions to address their historic and current roles in creating and sustaining the economic crisis that precipitated the political crisis in the country. However, it is also important to address the immediate responsibility of the Government of Zimbabwe for ongoing political repression. SADCs historic role, in securing liberation 2001 involve recognition of the centrality of free and fair electoral processes to the organisations across the region, places a particular responsibility on the organisation. The SADC Electoral Standards of March 2001 involve recognition of the centrality of free and fair electoral processes to the organisations mission. Zimbabwe now represents a test case for the credibility of the SADC Electoral Standards.

We therefore call on SADC Ministers and Heads of State to use their forthcoming meetings in Malawi:

  • to help pull Zimbabwe back from the brink and to ensure a free environment for fair elections;
  • to reverse recent legislation and policies which violate basic principles of democracy;
  • to create conditions for independent election monitoring, voter education and campaigning activities; to end the climate of intimidation and the use of state-sponsored militias; to guarantee neutrality and non-interference in the democratic process by civil servants, including law enforcement and armed services;

We recognise that the crisis in Zimbabwe is not simply electoral and will not be solved with the passing of elections in March. The people of Zimbabwe deserve international and regional support now and in the post-election environment. We look forward to SADC taking a leadership role through this period.

Yours in solidarity,

 Dr Walter Sauer
 Chairperson
 Elfriede Pekny
 General Secretary





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