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Zim crisis: UN steps in

THE United Nations says it is following the Zimbabwean crisis with concern, urging Harare to respect human rights amid pressure for the matter to be tabled at the global meeting. United Nations secretary-general António Guterres (pictured), through his office, said the President Emmerson Mnangagwa administration should protect fundamental rights as opposed to what has been happening in the southern African country in the last weeks. BY MOSES MATENGA “He urges the government of Zimbabwe to ensure the protection of all fundamental human rights, notably the freedom of opinion and expression and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association,” a statement from Guterres’ office read in part. In recent months, dozens of Zimbabweans have been abducted, arrested, tortured while many have been forced into hiding, including MDC Alliance vice-chairperson Job Sikhala. Journalists, lawyers, doctors and nurses have also not been spared. The United Nations Human Rights Commission last week also reacted angrily to increasing cases of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe with its spokesperson Liz Throssell saying citizens should not be persecuted for protesting peacefully. South Africa on Thursday reacted to pressure from Zimbabweans with President Cyril Ramaphosa sending envoys to Harare to deal with the crisis. Ramaphosa seconded former Security minister Sydney Mufamadi and former Vice-President Baleka Mbete “to engage the government of Zimbabwe and relevant stakeholders to identify possible ways in which South Africa can assist Zimbabwe”. The South African leader said he took the decision “following recent reports of difficulties that Zimbabwe is experiencing”. However, the appointment of the two raised eyebrows amid reports that Mbete was Mnangagwa’s “personal friend” who helped him settle temporarily in South Africa after he was fired as Vice-President by the late former President Robert Mugabe in November 2017. Mnangagwa fled to South Africa claiming there were threats on his life and in his narration of events, he said: “Mbete is a good friend of mine. So she came to where I was hiding and she told President Jacob Zuma that I was there.” South African opposition leader Mmusi Maimane said Mbete’s brother was South Africa’s ambassador to Zimbabwe and has remained quiet despite a glaring crisis. Maimane called for an inclusive team to act on the Zimbabwean crisis. “SA’s ambassador to Harare, Mphakama Mbete, is Baleka Mbete’s brother. He has been quiet during the arrests of journalists. Sydney Mufamadi did not speak to opposition in 2007. Rather than a sham envoy, we need a robust envoy with representatives from the Economic Freedom Fighters, United Democratic Movement (UDM), Democratic Alliance and Inkatha Freedom Party.” Maimane said this was not time for friends to “have tea” in the midst of a crisis. “We can’t be having friends having tea while the following happens, investigative journalists are arrested, activists are silenced, opposition victimised,” Maimane said. UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said it was now time for Sad