THIRTY-FOUR civil society organisations (CSOs) in Bulawayo yesterday threatened court action and mass protests against President Robert Mugabe following his disparaging and tribal remarks against Kalangas last week.
BY MELODY CHIMHAU/ NQOBANI NDLOVU
The rights activists said Mugabe violated the country’s Constitution, the Sadc and African Union (AU) charters and called on respective bodies to reprimand the 91-year-old leader and disassociate themselves from the President’s statements.
Mugabe described the Kalangas as uneducated and accused them of committing petty crimes in neighbouring South Africa.
National Youth Development Trust director Liberty Bhebhe said: “We are exploring various options to force him to retract his insulting remarks and apologise. We are exploring the option of litigation. We are also exploring the option of street protests against him.
“We will be writing to the Sadc and the AU to reprimand Mugabe and go further to ask them to disassociate themselves from the insulting remarks. We are saying he must apologise or should face litigation and protests.”
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) coordinator Jenni Williams said: “He (Mugabe) is not getting away with it this time.
Enough is enough. We will hold him accountable and force him to apologise.
We want to change and stop this culture that Mugabe and his Zanu PF party have been propagating.”
In a joint statement, the CSOs, consisting of pressure groups, residents’ associations, lawyers for human rights and others, said government should disassociate itself from Mugabe’s tribal statements.
“The President’s statement was a direct affront to section 56 (3) of the Zimbabwe Constitution under the Bill of Rights (Chapter 4) that provides for non-discrimination, unfair treatment on such grounds as tribe, ethnic or social origin, culture or economic status.The statements also negate section 90 (2) which outlines one of the duties of the President as to promote unity and peace in the country for the benefit and well-being of the people of Zimbabwe . . . ,” Bulawayo Agenda executive director Mmeli Dube, who read out the statement, said.
“We, the undersigned organisations, urge the President to personally and unequivocally retract the blatantly discriminatory, derogatory, divisive, demeaning and unwarranted statement and apologise to the Kalanga people in particular and people of Matabeleland in general without delay . . . ”
Dube added: “We thus call upon Sadc to reprimand its chairperson and disassociate itself from his statements that promote discrimination and violence against a people.
We then call upon the African Union to disassociate itself from the statement from its chairperson and ensure that the AU Charter on Human and People’s Rights, and Charter on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which Zimbabwe has ratified are respected and implemented by the chairperson and member states.”
Information minister Jonathan Moyo was yesterday quoted in the State media downplaying Mugabe’s statements and blaming what he called the colonial past stereotype narratives that people of Matabeleland were fond of trekking down to neighbouring countries for jobs.