EU sees rise in free expression since Mugabe’s ouster

EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe Philippe Van Damme

Zimbabweans have become free to express their views since the removal of former president Robert Mugabe in a coup last year, the European Union (EU) delegation in Harare has said.

Mugabe was toppled by his former deputy and long-time ally, Emmerson Mnangagwa, in November last year.

Mnangagwa was assisted by the military to get rid of Mugabe whose 37 year rule was synonymous with dictatorship and human rights abuses.

The aged former leader’s administration also used state repressive apparatus to silence opposing voices.

Speaking at the launch of the EU-funded Justice Sector Support Programme in Harare on Tuesday, the western bloc’s representative in Harare, Philippe Van Damme, said they were realizing that since Mugabe’s demise, Zimbabwe was becoming a democracy.

“Since the 18th of November 2017, people have become increasingly confident to speak out and defend their rights,” said the western envoy.

He said although the new dispensation had allowed people to express themselves, citizens would fully enjoy their freedoms if the judiciary worked in their interest.

“The people’s hopes for a new Zimbabwe are also directed at the judiciary and the justice system as a whole.

“EU, therefore, calls upon the Chiefs Council, the Judicial Services Commission and government to make a constitutional rule of law that prevails in customary courts, as they are closest to the people and the most vulnerable”, said Ambassador Van Damme.

Justice Minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi, said government was serious about conducting a free and fair election this year so that the country encourages investors who had been sitting on the fence to come and do business with Zimbabwe.

“As you are now aware economic turnaround is the thrust of our government under the new dispensation and as government we are strongly in support of judicial independence, accountability and strong institutions to reach our goals,” he said. – NewsZim