Mmusi Maimane. Picture: THE TIMES/ALON SKUY
Mmusi Maimane. Picture: THE TIMES/ALON SKUY

The DA says it will approach the UN, International Criminal Court (ICC) and parliament over the political and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.

“Today, [Zimbabwe] finds itself on the verge of a humanitarian crisis,” DA leader Mmusi Maimane said on Monday.

“Widespread civilian suppression, military-led violence, and bloodshed has ensued, as Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Zanu-PF government has implemented what can only be described as a dictator-like military clampdown on citizens, which has to date claimed the lives of at least 12 people,” he said.

Zimbabwe, which is facing its worst economic crisis in a decade, came to a standstill earlier in January as protesters took to the streets over the country’s latest staggering fuel-price hike and the worsening socio-economic situation.

According to human rights organisations, at least 12 people have been killed and thousands injured as government crackdown on the protests

The organisations criticised the use of the military and live ammunition saying the government has not learned from the deadly post-election crackdown in August in which six people were killed.

Under-fire Zimbabwe president Emmerson Mnangagwa last week promised that “heads will roll” as he attempted to shift the blame to rogue soldiers and deserters. “Violence or misconduct by our security forces is unacceptable and a betrayal of the new Zimbabwe,” Mnangagwa said.

He called for a “national dialogue” over the protests, but raised concern that the protests were “not a peaceful protest” as they were characterised by “wanton violence and cynical destruction.”

Maimane said the DA will pursue a set of immediate interventions to resolve the current crisis in Zimbabwe.

“Firstly, in my capacity as chairperson of the Southern African Partnership for Democratic Change (SAPDC), I will pay a working visit to Zimbabwe this week. I will meet with current opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, and former MDC leader, Tendai Biti, among others. The purpose of this visit is to seek practical solutions to the ongoing crisis, and garner support across the region for much needed intervention in Zimbabwe.”

In addition to this, the DA will write to the office of the prosecutor of the ICC to request an investigation into the conduct of the government of Zimbabwe as per Article 15 of the Rome Statute.

Furthermore, Maimane said the party will formally approach the UN commissioner on human rights requesting the intervention of the UN Human Rights Council, and urgently request a joint meeting of the SA parliament’s portfolio committees on home affairs, international relations and cooperation, police, and defence and military veterans to deliberate on the political and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.

The DA will also request the national assembly to urgently debate the impact of the violence by Zimbabwean government on SA.

“Zimbabweans are fleeing their country, as we are told by border officials that over 130,000 people crossed the Zimbabwean/SA border in a single day in mid-January. The situation is dire,” said Maimane.

He said despite the humanitarian crisis, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC government has “sat on its hands and watched on, employing its ‘quiet diplomacy’ policy”.

“There has been no advocacy for the citizens, no justice for the deceased, and no protection of civil liberties for those who are currently detained,” charged Maimane.

“Last week, the DA approached President Ramaphosa. For President Ramaphosa and his ANC, maintaining the brotherhood of ‘big man politics’ across the continent is more important than the dignity, livelihood and human rights of fellow human beings.

“From Zimbabwe, to Zambia, to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) — the ANC has chosen oppressors over the oppressed. This is because Ramaphosa and Mnangagwa are cut from the same cloth.” 

phakathib@businesslive.co.za