‘Zimbabwe mustn’t use Covid as an excuse to thwart people’s freedoms’

By Almot Maqolo

Seven Heads of Mission in Zimbabwe have expressed their ‘deep’ concern over the current political, economic, social and health crisis being faced by Zimbabweans. The Heads of Mission includes the Ambossodors of Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

This comes a day after Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa said that his administration remains committed in improving the country into a great nation despite facing challenges. In a joint statement, the Heads of Mission said they stand by the people of Zimbabwe in their desire for a peaceful and prosperous democracy. “It is because we care about the people of Zimbabwe that our governments provide extensive humanitarian assistance to those affected by drought, natural disasters and disease – including in this difficult year, the new global pandemic of Covid-19.

“But Covid-19 must not be used as an excuse to restrict citizen’s fundamental freedoms. Freedom of the press, of opinion, of expression and of assembly are all universally recognized human rights and end are guaranteed by the Zimbabwean constitution,” reads the statement. The Heads of Mission said the government has a responsibility to investigate and prosecute those responsible for violating human rights. Further reiterated their calls for the government to address corruption and the illicit extraction of Zimbabwe’s wealth for personal gain, which continue to undermine Zimbabwe’s development and well-being of the people.

“If Zimbabwe is to reach its potential, it’s wealth and resources must be used to serve all Zimbabweans,” the Heads of Mission said. The Heads of Mission said the Zimbabwean people have the right to engage in dialogue to build a better future for their country. “But the necessary discussions have so far been hindered by unhelpfu rhetoric and blame assigned to several groups, including diplomatic missions and non-state actors,” reads part of the statement.

“We ask the government to move away from such language and instead to deliver on its long-promised reforms and reach across the divides. Implemented to the benefit of all, they will make a difference to the life of all Zimbabweans.” Diplomats added that: “We hope this government is able to deliver on its initial vision and live up to the commitments it made when it came to power. As before, we stand ready to provide support in response to meaningful progress on reforms.”

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