UNI Africa calls for calm and democracy in crisis-struck Zimbabwe
UNI Africa Regional Secretary Keith Jacobs says UNI is closely following events in Zimbabwe after the military seized control. President Robert Mugabe is understood to be under house arrest but the whereabouts of his wife Grace, who was bidding to succeed him as president, are not known.
Jacobs said, “We are in constant contact with our affiliates in Zimbabwe and they inform us that the situation albeit tense remains calm and citizens are carrying on with their lives.
UNI Africa is calling upon the African Union and the Southern African Development Community to ensure that they intervene to restore a transition to civilian rule.”
The UNI Africa Regional Secretary explained how events had unfolded, “We woke up with the news of a military coup underway in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe military released a statement on the national broadcaster that they were not staging a coup d’etat but rather bringing to justice ‘criminals surrounding President Mugabe’ who in their view are ‘committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country’. This follows a warning issued by military leaders on Monday 13 November that they would intervene if the purge of military veterans did not end.
“There is a power struggle over who might succeed Robert Mugabe, between his wife Grace and her rival former vice-president Emmerson Mnangagawa who was axed by the President.
“We will stay in close contact with our affiliates on the ground and call for a peaceful democratic solution at this critical moment in Zimbabwe’s history.”
Jacobs' sentiments were echoed by a statement released by the ITUC - text below:
The ITUC has called for the Zimbabwean military to step aside immediately to allow civilian control of the government and the establishment of a process of national reconciliation. Having seized power, the military is now holding the country’s president, Robert Mugabe, under house arrest.
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said, “This is an unconstitutional move from the military to remove a president who has himself repeatedly violated the Constitution and fundamental civil rights. Mugabe has plundered the Zimbabwean economy and driven the vast majority of the population into severe poverty, but that cannot excuse the actions of the military, which have no place in a democracy even where the government is in such disarray as in Zimbabwe today. The rule of law must be paramount, and the people of the country must be allowed to chart a new course for Zimbabwe through a civilian-led process of national reconciliation based on respect for democracy and human rights.”
The military move follows turmoil within the ruling ZANU-PF party, focused largely on Mugabe’s efforts to hand over power to his wife, Grace Mugabe. Following charges of assault on a woman in South Africa in August, Grace Mugabe was given diplomatic immunity by her husband’s government, and she is currently in dispute with a diamond merchant over a ring worth USD 1.35 million. She is demanding repayment of the cost of the ring to a Dubai bank account which she controls.
“Zimbabweans, and the international community, will not lament the likely end of the Mugabe era with the ruling clique notorious for its lack of regard for ordinary people while amassing vast wealth for itself. Nevertheless, military rule is never acceptable, and Zimbabwe’s army chiefs must step aside immediately, freedom of the press must be restored, and other fundamental rights including freedom of association and assembly must be fully respected.
“The international trade union movement stands in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe, and will closely monitor developments to ensure their democratic rights,” Burrow added.