Gender activists call for decisive action on Zimbabwe

Date: January 1, 1970
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22 April: Southern African gender activists have called on their leaders and the international community to “act decisivelyÀ in ending the Zimbabwean crisis which threatens all peace loving citizens, especially women and children.

They have specifically urged Angolans to refuse entry to a shipment of arms headed for Zimbabwe from China after citizen action in South Africa led to the shipment being diverted from Durban harbour at the weekend. The full statement of the Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance[1] reads:
“As organisations campaigning for the adoption of a protocol on gender and development in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) we have watched with growing anxiety the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe following the 29 March polls. The recounting of votes long after the stipulated period for complaints to be lodged and the fact that the results of the presidential poll have still not been announced is a flagrant disregard of the rule of law. Security clampdowns on ordinary citizens reflect a desperate regime determined to survive through brute force.
The fragile gains made for gender equality in Zimbabwe have all but been reversed. In the election results announced so far, the proportion of women in the national assembly has declined from 16% to 13%. The target set in the draft Protocol on Gender and Development that will go before heads of state at their August summit in South Africa is 50% women in all areas of decision-making by 2015.
As Zimbabwe has turned from breadbasket of the region to a basket case for food aid, women and children have borne the brunt of the suffering. Women ply the four borders of the country exchanging sexual favours for food to feed their children. Political violence is invariably accompanied by gender violence, already high in the SADC region.
We applaud the port workers in Durban for refusing to offload the tonnes of Chinese arms headed for Zimbabwe to suppress armless civilians. We also applaud the two religious leaders who sought a court injunction to the arms while leaders of South Africa appeared to turn a blind eye to the appalling suffering of Zimbabwean people. This shows that where democratic institutions are in tact, the will of the people can overcome political procrastination and opportunism.
We call on the people of Angola to follow the lead of ordinary South Africans by refusing to allow their country to be a conduit for the death cargo now heading to Harare via Luanda. We also call on all governments of the SADC region, and members of the United Nations, to be true to the goals of these organisations by acting decisively in ending the crisis in Zimbabwe.”
For more information contact Loveness Jambaya- Nyakurah on 27 (84) 365 6930 or Colleen Lowe Morna on 27 (82) 651 6995.

[1] The press release is made by Gender Links on behalf of the 16 national and regional members of the Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance.

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