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Africa Day in the face of COVID-19

The Zimbabwe Peace Project Statement on Africa Day, 2020

Today, 25 May 2020, marks the 57th anniversary since African states united to protect the interests of the continent and to restore dignity to the African people.

ZPP Information Department

This year’s commemorations come under the theme “Silencing the Guns, creating a conducive environment for Africa’s development and intensifying the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic”.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) joins Africa in commemorating this occasion, which comes at a time when Africa and the world are in the middle of a fight against a devastating pandemic in the form of COVID-19.

It also comes at a time when the sincerity of African governments in prioritising the health and welfare of citizens is under scrutiny.

Across the continent, there have been reports of governments’ poor preparedness to handle COVID-19.

With casualties of 3,184- much less than in other continents – Africa has, however, been bedevilled by paucity of leadership, widespread corruption and poor government priorities.

It must be noted that healthcare forms a central part of development, and COVID-19 has greatly exposed one of the reasons why Africa remains behind, as governments have not invested in the sector.

In light of this, ZPP continues to call on African governments to refocus and prioritise social services.

For Zimbabwe, the occasion offers a chance to look back on the vision of the founding fathers of the African Union (AU), which include promotion of unity, solidarity among African states and promoting the upholding of fundamental human rights and freedoms as enshrined in international instruments like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948.

The occasion for this year comes in an environment where the state has intensified its clampdown on opposition political players, journalists, civil society actors and human rights defenders.

Only last month, police in Bulawayo arbitrarily arrested and brutally assaulted two women, Nokuthula and Ntombizodwa Mpofu and it took pressure from the civil society organisations, and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission to get the women released and have the six offending officers arrested.

Another case in point is the recent abduction and torture of three opposition leaders after they staged a demonstration.

On this day, two journalists, Frank Chikowore and Samuel Takawira are locked up in remand prison, after being arrested while on official duty.

In that regard ZPP urges the government of Zimbabwe to respect human rights as espoused in the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and in the Constitution.

ZPP further calls on African countries and the AU to be proactive in demanding that the Zimbabwean government account for the past and present abuses of human rights, and to put in place robust measures to curtail future occurrences

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