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Memorandum to SADC Summit on Zimbabwe and Swaziland
16 August 2008
We, civil society organizations from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Swaziland, gathered at this meeting of SADC Heads of State in Johannesburg on 16 August 2008, reassert our commitment to the struggle for a transition to democracy in Zimbabwe and Swaziland.
We stand firmly by the principles of democratic governance that are embodied in the SADC and African Union Charters, declarations and protocols on good governance which are the birthright of every African. We note that the key defining features of both Zimbabwe and Swaziland are electoral fraud, political manipulation by ruling elites, institutionalised oppression, state brutality and an environment of fear and oppression.
We therefore call upon the leaders of the SADC to adopt the following programme:
We urge SADC to be guided by the Zimbabwe People’s Charter, which was adopted after widespread deliberation and discussion with the public. It provides us with a mandate to struggle for the principles a respect for freedom, equality, human dignity, accountability, non-partisanship, non-violence and a culture of peace.
It declares that the existing constitutional order is incapable of producing a democratic government. Elections will remain illegitimate until they are held under a new, democratic constitution and that a constitution is invalid unless it is the product of a people-driven, participatory process which makes room for the input of all Zimbabweans.
We call upon the SADC to commit itself fully to the struggle for the ideals of democracy, including press freedom, people-centred economic planning, an appropriate balance of power in government, a respect for human rights, and an enabling environment for children, the youth, women, the disabled and People Living with HIV/AIDS.
Scores of Zimbabweans have been killed, hundreds imprisoned and thousands driven from their homes. The space for democratic participation by the political opposition, civil society organisations, and the public at large has been eliminated by draconian laws and extralegal exercises of power.
The following steps must be taken to create an environment conducive to open negotiations by all stakeholders:
1. Cessation of political violence. The threats, physical assaults, torture, and acts of arson that have characterised the period following the 29 March elections must be halted immediately. Additionally, the structures which have been perpetrating and directing these attacks, including all militia bases, must be immediately dismantled. International monitors should be invited to enter Zimbabwe to assist with these tasks.
2. Establishment of law and order. All political prisoners must be released, oppressive laws such as the Public Order and Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act must be repealed to open space for democratic participation, and perpetrators of political violence must be brought to justice.
3. Facilitation of humanitarian relief. Bans on aid groups and civil society organizations must be lifted to allow them to attend to victims of the humanitarian disaster. A council should be established to address the plight of internally displaced people and refugees.
If the foregoing conditions are met, we urge SADC to support a transitional authority to provide an appropriate vehicle for ushering in democratic reform. It would have a specific, limited mandate to oversee the drafting of a new, people-driven constitution and the subsequent facilitation of free and fair elections. We reject any elitist power-sharing agreement that fails to address the inadequacy of the current constitutional regime.
We demand that civil society organisations and the general public be party to these negotiations. Although the exact details of the transitional authority’s mandate would need to be determined through debate and public consultation, the following elements are necessary to ensure that it is successful in establishing a new democratic order:
1. Leadership by an impartial party. The transitional authority should be headed by an individual who is not a member of ZANU-PF or MDC.
2. Broad representation. Individuals from a broad sector of Zimbabwean society should be incorporated into the transitional authority, including representatives from labour, women’s and children’s rights groups, churches, and other interest groups.
3. Specific, limited mandate. The transitional authority should be tasked with facilitating the drafting and adoption of a new constitution and then holding elections under the new constitutional framework. It should only govern the country until the newly elected government is installed. The negotiating parties should provide a very clear timeframe for this process, with no more than 18 months of rule by the transitional authority.
4. People-driven constitutional development. The process of drafting a new constitution must include broad-based consultation with the public and civil society organisations. The draft constitution should not be enacted until it has been ratified by the public in a national referendum.
5. Restoration of good governance. State institutions - the judiciary, police, security services, and state welfare agencies - should be depoliticised, demilitarised and reformed. Steps should be taken to fight corruption and promote accountability for public officials. Restrictions on press freedom should be lifted and access to state media outlets should be opened.
6. Economic recovery programmes. Initiatives should be undertaken to resolve the current economic crisis and ensure an equitable distribution of national resources for the benefit of all Zimbabweans, including land as a national asset of the people and not an elite, whatever its colour or race.
7. Transitional justice initiatives. The transitional authority should design and implement a victim-centred process to bring to justice the perpetrators of gross human rights violations and promote national healing. This framework for transitional justice should be embedded in the new constitution.
We note the courage of the people of Zimbabwe in their determined efforts to soldier on against all odds, in the face of extreme hostility and state violence. The world community of democracy-loving people remains fully behind them at this hour of need, always acting to raise their issues and suffering in order to promote awareness and put pressure on regional leaders to act decisively.
We note the SADC mediation efforts led by South African President Thabo Mbeki, which have raised hopes for the possible resolution of the protracted conflict, but we believe a lot still needs to be done for the right environment to be created.
Swaziland has the oldest state of emergency in the region, with all public institutions and decision-making the monopoly and sole preserve of the royal family. There are no democratic elections, systemic and institutionalised corruption and state terror against political and worker activists, founded on the basis of the 1973 king’s decree that concentrated all power in his hands. Years of convenient silence on Swaziland have promoted a culture of impunity and disregard for the fundamentals of democracy in the whole region.
We further note the deepening political and socio-economic crisis, and the protracted political impasse which has not been resolved by the new constitution promulgated in 2005, which itself is a product of an illegitimate process and royal imposition.
We urge SADC leaders to support the following demands formulated by civil society, under the banner of the Swaziland United Democratic Front:
1. Multi-party democratic elections: The continued denial of political space, particularly the ban on multiparty politics and the right to participate in public institutions of decision-making, remains a denial of a core tenet of democracy and flies in the face of the SADC Mauritius Principles governing elections.
2. The unbanning of political parties: The continued banning of political parties which was initially authored by the King’s proclamation to the Nation of 1973 has since been validated by the new constitution promulgated in 2005.
3. The return of political exiles: Although continually denied by the state, several Swazis remain in exile for fear of persecution by the state.
4. The evolution of a truly representative national dialogue or national convention which will result in a truly democratic constitution which will represent the will of the people of Swaziland: The current constitution remains illegitimate as it was unilaterally driven without the critical input of Swazi stakeholders.
5. End to cancerous corruption and greed: The royal family has entrenched a deep culture of cancerous corruption and greed in Swazi society, with the state institutions permanently involved in pervasive corruption that eats away the social fibre of society. A huge part of the budget is corroded by perpetual corruption and greed, which is led by the ruling minority, in a country where almost 70% live on international food aid and which is almost a world leader in the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS.
We draw SADC’s attention to the recent positive developments within the oppressed and struggling people of Swaziland. Most notable is the formation of Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF), which brings together all progressive forces and further unites all the people in struggle for democracy and social change.
We further note the joint celebration of May Day by all worker organisations and trade unions in the country, for the first time in the history of the country, sending a clear statement that the time for the people to act together has come and that the people will resist all attempts at disuniting them.
To that end we call upon SADC to adopt the following goals of the Swazi struggle:
Creation of a new and democratic constitution that derives its legitimacy from the will of the people.
Building and institutionalising the culture of democracy, the rule of law and accountability.
Democratisation of traditional institutions to serve the needs of the people and respond accordingly to the desire of the people to be free and prosperous.
Full recognition of the rights and responsibilities of civil society, and its independent right to exist and act freely from any form of state influence and control, including royal patronage.
Urgent action needed
We urge SADC to adopt a new sense of urgency to tackle the crises in Zimbabwe and Swaziland. We have for too long allowed these illegitimate and undemocratic regimes to fester and begin to affect the entire fibre of the region
Robert Mugabe and Mswati III are not legitimate leaders of their countries and cannot claim any legitimacy to rule, for they have not been democratically elected by the peoples of their countries.
As representatives of civil society we condemn the behaviour of these two leaders and take it upon ourselves to expose them and their unacceptable behaviour before the eyes of the world.
Today we express a hope that the long journey to emancipate the citizens of both Swaziland and Zimbabwe is near its end. Although we face numerous challenges, we believe that a commitment to the principles which have guided us in our struggle for democracy will lead to a resolution of the current political impasse obtaining in the two countries. We therefore urge all SADC heads of state and citizens to join us in our efforts to realize a just and democratic society, not only in Zimbabwe and Swaziland, but throughout the entire region. Let us continue fighting for our freedom, democracy and co-prosperity, underpinned by progressive development paradigms founded on the basis of a redistributive system.
Signed, on 16 August 2008, in Sandton, Johannesburg, by:
Congress of South African Trade Unions
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum
Revolutionary Youth of Zimbabwe
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition,
People’s United Democratic Movement of Swaziland
Swaziland United Democratic Front
Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions
Swaziland Federation of Labour
Swaziland Youth Congress
Federation of Unions of South Africa
Treatment Action Campaign
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