ZIMBABWE has been ranked as the most “repressed” State globally amid concerns over a shrinking democratic space in the country following a sustained assault on the opposition and civic groups.
Government is now pushing to have the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs) Amendment Bill enacted into law to regulate the operations of civic groups, accusing them of pushing a regime change agenda.According to a new watchlist by global human rights watchdog CIVICUS Monitor, Zimbabwe’s civic space is under severe attack with increasing restrictions targeting civil society and the opposition.
Other countries included on the list are Guatemala, Guinea, Serbia and Sri Lanka.
The international organisation said Zimbabwe should create an enabling environment for the civil society so that they can operate without undue restrictions.“Zimbabwe is currently rated ‘Repressed’ by the CIVICUS Monitor out of 50 countries globally. This rating is typically given to countries where civic space is heavily contested by power holders, who impose a combination of legal and practical constraints on the full enjoyment of fundamental rights,” the report read in part.
CIVICUS Monitor is a global alliance of civic society organisations (CSOs) that provides a comprehensive assessment of the conditions for civil society across the globe.
“As Zimbabwe gears up for general elections in July 2023, civic space is under severe attack with increasing restrictions targeting civil society and opposition groups ahead of the elections being reported. Restrictive amendments to CSO law, public vilification of CSOs and foreign diplomatic missions, raids on CSO activities and suspension of CSO registration have become commonplace.”
The report comes as President Emmerson Mnangagwa has come under fire over his claims that Zimbabwe was a peaceful country, while addressing delegates at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York, United States on Thursday.Political analyst Effie Ncube said the world should not expect anything new from Mnangagwa.
“Infact the address by Mnangagwa is just a continuation of where the late former President Robert Mugabe left and will repeat the same things that they have addressed before without touching on those things that the world expects them to do,” Ncube said.
“The world is expecting Zimbabwe to make provisions for holding a fair and free election, for the eradication of poverty, for respecting human rights and democratic freedoms. I don’t even expect him to go into that subject in detail to show the world how they are going to hold free and fair elections.”.
Another political analyst Methuseli Moyo said: “Generally, peace is the absence of conflict or violence. There are two types of positive and negative peace. Negative peace is simply the absence of conflict, whereas positive peace consists of conditions where justice, equity, harmony, and other principles of democracy flourish.
“Zimbabwe may be able to claim to have negative peace, but even then, we still have sporadic and organised violence often. As for positive peace, it is non-existent. Our country is tense and the citizens are not happy at all.”