South African opposition calls for SADC to intervene in Zimbabwe

180801) -- HARARE, Aug. 1, 2018 (Xinhua) -- Soldiers patrol a street in Harare, Zimbabwe, Aug. 1, 2018. Three people died and scores of others were injured Wednesday when protesting opposition supporters clashed with army and police in the capital Harare. Scores of opposition supporters took to the streets of Harare to protest against the delay in announcement of presidential election results as well as alleged rigging of the vote. (Xinhua/Shaun Jusa)

PRETORIA – South Africa’s official opposition, the Democratic Alliance, on Thursday called on Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa to withdraw the army from the streets of Harare following widespread reports of civilians being shot by the military.

“In light of the ongoing post-election violence, the DA calls on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to immediately stand the army down. The preservation of lives must be the highest priority of the Zimbabwean government right now,” said DA’s spokesman on international relations and cooperation, Stevens Mokgalapa.

“Further, we implore the SADC (Southern African Development Community) and the South African government to intervene and convene all the disputing parties with a view to securing a peaceful and stable Zimbabwe. Now is not the time of quiet diplomacy – calm and stability must be restored in Zimbabwe. Our neighbours across the border have suffered decades of brutal dictatorship and deserve democracy, freedom and safety without further delay.”

He said the DA “condemns in the strongest terms” the use of live ammunition on unarmed civilians in Zimbabwe.

“This is a brutal act that is irreconcilable to a liberal democracy in which citizens have the freedom of expression, and to protest peacefully,” the DA member of Parliament said.

Mokgalapa had recently been in Zimbabwe as part of the SADC Parliamentary Forum. The mission was based in the central and urban constituency of Mutare in the eastern Manicaland Province.

“We were in the field on Saturday for the final rallies and campaigns. The rallies concluded peacefully with no incidents reported at either MDC or ZANU-PF events. We also had an opportunity to inspect the voting stations to assess the readiness of Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). Our initial assessment was positive as voting stations were adequately resourced with voting materials available and polling staff and party agents present,” he said.

“With the conclusion of the elections, it became evident however that a major source of contention would be the cumbersome counting procedure. The delay in the announcement of the Presidential results has led to an outpouring of frustration which has led to protests in the streets of Harare.”

The election euphoria in Zimbabwe was quickly punctured when military trucks rolled into Harare city centre to quell protests by opposition MDC-Alliance supporters. Private media in Zimbabwe reported on Thursday that more than six people were shot dead in the melee that followed the soldiers’ deployment.

African News Agency (ANA)