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Southern Africa Report and Zimbabwe Campaign Actions

Southern Africa is dominated by inequality. The majority of people live in extreme poverty, and the region has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the world, a statistic strongly connected to the vulnerability of women to violence and sexual exploitation.

Despite the recent power sharing agreement in Zimbabwe, there is no sign of an end to the country's long-standing culture of impunity, and human rights defenders remain at risk. Meanwhile, Botswana is considered a model of good governance, with a positive human rights record by regional standards, and South Africa is evolving into a stable, multi-party democracy.

People in Zimbabwe and Angola are at risk of large scale forced evictions. There are concerns about the use of force by police in Swaziland, South Africa, Angola and Mozambique. In South Africa, women are discriminated against in accessing adequate treatment for HIV/AIDS, the subject of a major Amnesty campaign in the region.

Zimbabwe Women Beaten and Torchered: The majority of human rights activists in Zimbabwe are women. Since 2005, hundreds of women protesters have been arrested and detained for engaging in peaceful protests.

Zimbabwe: Whatever election date, human rights monitors vital


Posted: 13 June 2013

Zimbabwe’s government must ensure there is no repeat of the violence that marred the presidential elections in 2008, Amnesty International warned today as the country’s leaders publicly disputed the date the 2013 vote should be held.

During the 2008 elections more than 200 people were killed and thousands injured and displaced. Many of those targeted were human rights defenders and civil society activists who play a crucial role in exposing abuses and supporting victims of human rights violations. So many people were beaten that hospitals ran out of crutches.

Amnesty International’s Africa director Netsanet Belay said:

“Whatever date is decided for the election, the government’s absolute priority must be making sure the violence that erupted during the 2008 vote is not repeated.

“All the rights enshrined in Zimbabwe’s new constitution must be respected by the security forces. This is especially important in view of the role they played in organising violence against perceived political opponents of the then government in 2008.

“The rights to freedom of assembly for all must be respected. Police must not arbitrarily apply provisions of the Public Order and Security Act to stop meetings of civil society groups and other political parties as has happened previously.”

However, in recent months there has been a crackdown on civil society in Zimbabwe with the arrest of activists, including prominent human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, and the raiding of NGO offices. Shortwave radios have been banned in an apparent attempt at curbing access to news sources other than official state outlets. Amnesty is concerned this clampdown could intensify as the election date approaches.

In 2008, it was the intervention of Zimbabwe’s neighbours in the Southern African Development Community that stemmed the bloodshed. This time, Amnesty wants them to use their influence to prevent the violence from happening in the first place, including by deploying human rights monitors to oversee the period before, during and after the elections.

The SADC will meet on Saturday in Maputo, Mozambique to review the electoral process in Zimbabwe.


President Mugabe has announced that Zimbabwe will hold elections on 31 July.

When the last elections were held - in 2008 - a wave of politically motivated violence spread across the country after the first round of polling. More than 200 people were killed, 10,000 injured and 28,000 forced to flee their homes.

Stop the 2013 election descending into violence

Update 17 June: The South African Development Community has recommended that the election date be pushed back to 14 August. Zimbabwe’s constitutional court will now decide the final date for election.

Who's at risk?

Many of those targeted in 2008 were human rights defenders, who play a crucial role in exposing abuses and supporting victims of violations.

In one such case, Jestina Mukoko was abducted by an armed group thought to be state security agents. She was tortured and held in secret for three weeks and later charged with attempting to overthrow the government. 

Jestina is Director of The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), a human rights monitoring organisation that had issued many reports criticising the election-related violence. 

With Zimbabwe due to go to the polls again on 31 July we are determined to avoid another wave of brutality. But the attacks have already begun.

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