Urgent Action Needed in Zimbabwe

e-09-009_zimbabwe_unity_petition2As the situation in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate, it’s more important than ever for us to come together and encourage positive change in the region. As we’ve written about before, the African Union can play a significant role in ensuring that Zimbabwe’s unity government succeeds.

Today, ONE member and activist Kumi Naidoo sent out an email explaining the work he’s done to bring attention to this issue, and his support of the campaign. Please check it out, and lend your voice to the campaign here.

My name is Kumi Naidoo, a South African founder of the Global Campaign Against Poverty, and a ONE member. I’m writing to ask you to join me in signing ONE’s petition calling on the African Union to do everything in its power to end the human rights violations against Zimbabweans and hostility towards humanitarian groups in Zimbabwe. Only then will Zimbabwe’s unity government be able to take on the rampant hunger and widespread cholera epidemic that is ravaging the people of Zimbabwe.

Petition text:
Please ensure that the African Union executes its role as guarantor of the new Zimbabwe unity government.

I recently completed a 21 day fast in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe, many of whom are fasting involuntarily in a country ravaged by want, destitution, fear and terror. During my fast, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Zimbabwe joined the government, after reaching an agreement with Robert Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF. This agreement will be overseen by the African Union, acting as guarantor. For this new unity government to have any chance of ending the humanitarian and political crises in Zimbabwe, the African Union and its member nations must take decisive action to ensure that their role as a guarantor is defined and fulfilled.

I have seen with my own eyes what happens when regional powers like the African Union passively allow governments to dismiss the will of a people. Late last year I travelled to Zimbabwe to see for myself what years of corruption, repression and mismanagement had wrought. While there, I met a 10 year-old boy named Sibusiso who had not eaten for 10 days. He told me, “Our country needs to be free – free as a bird – here we are not free. We do not get food to eat.”

We must take action for Sibusiso, for the millions of Zimbabweans who are just as hungry and face the threat of Africa’s worst cholera outbreak in 19 years, which has already killed almost 4,000 people.

Despite the new unity government, Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party is still exercising the tactics it has long used to silence opponents and terrorize innocent Zimbabweans. Just this week, police arrested Jestina Mukoko, a leading human rights campaigner in Zimbabwe, on erroneous charges of plotting to overthrow the government. She joins Robert Bennett, a leading member of the opposition, who has also been wrongly imprisoned.

Still, we have signs of hope. In contrast to the past government’s stonewalling and denials, the opposition MDC, now part of the unity government, speaks with great candour about the challenges Zimbabwe faces and the need for international aid to end the humanitarian crisis. They have also reached a deal to pay Zimbabwe’s teachers in foreign currency so Zimbabwe’s schools will open for the first time in months. Even President Mugabe met with the same UN officials he has rebuffed in the past to talk about joint efforts to end the tragic humanitarian crisis there.

At this turbulent time, Zimbabwe’s fate hangs in the balance and we must not waiver in our support for its beleaguered people.

As I fasted earlier this month, the pangs of hunger were replaced by a thirst for change and justice for my neighbours to the North in Zimbabwe. That thirst will go unquenched unless the African Union does its part as guarantor of the unity government agreement by condemning ongoing outrages and interceding wherever necessary to promote government that is free and committed to replacing the misery and suffering in Zimbabwe with dignity and hope.

In solidarity,

-Kumi Naidoo

Please lend your voice to this campaign here and be sure to ask your friends and family to do the same. We’ll continue to keep you posted about new developments as they occur. You can read up-to-date information about the Zimbabwe situation here.

Thank you for your voice,

-Chris Scott

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