- Human Rights Watch has called on the African Union to put political pressure on Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe to end deadlocked power sharing deal and end the deepening humanitarian crisis. The call comes ahead of the AU summit to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 26 January to 3 February, 2009.
The new HRW report released today, outlines rights abuses, food shortages, corruption and failing health systems amid a runaway cholera outbreak which by Thursday had claimed almost 3,000 lives.
Human Rights Watch has expressed concern about the lack of progress in mediation efforts by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and failure of the AU to pressurise president Mugabe to act upon the ongoing human rights abuses which have not ceased and those responsible having not been held to account.
"Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party have shown scant regard for the welfare of Zimbabweans," said Georgette Gagnon, the body's Africa director.
The report said the AU should outrightly condemn and call for an end to ongoing abuses by the ZANU-PF authorities including politically motivated violence and arbitrary arrest of opposition supporters.
The worsening humanitarian crisis follows the failure of president Mugabe and his rival Morgan Tsvangirai to resolve a dispute over the allocation of powerful ministries under a unity government.
The Global Political Agreement signed by ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) last September has not won the opposition better position in power or led to a credible government of national unity or ended ZANU-PF's widespread abuses, HRW said.
ZANU-PF has repeatedly been accused of breaching the terms of the agreement that committed the two parties to demonstrate respect for democratic values and human rights.
"ZANU-PF's violations of basic human rights and various governmental policies have worsened the country's humanitarian crisis," HRW said in a report.
Over 5 million Zimbabweans face severe food shortages and are dependent on international aid. Repeated political interference by ZANU-PF in the work of humanitarian agencies has severely hampered international efforts to tackle the country's multiple crises.
Calls by HRW follows on numerous others calls by insitutional bodies and individuals saying it may be time for Mr Mugabe to make way and allow Zimbabwe's return to normalcy.
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