I am deeply concerned by the prolonged and complex crisis in Zimbabwe, where growing political and economic challenges and spiralling humanitarian needs have been exacerbated by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am particularly concerned by the recent and significant escalation in reported human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The arrest and prolonged pretrial detention of journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume, as well as reports of the arrest, abduction and torture of civil society activists and opposition politicians are sources of grave concern.
Ireland’s EU and UN partners share these concerns. The UN Secretary General, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU and its Member States in Zimbabwe, as well as civil society leaders in Zimbabwe and abroad, have all called on the Government there to ensure that the human rights of all Zimbabweans are protected, in accordance with Zimbabwe’s Constitution and international human rights obligations. Ireland stands behind these calls.
Ireland is closely monitoring developments in Zimbabwe from our Embassy in South Africa, which is accredited to Zimbabwe and has responsibility for overseeing the delivery of Ireland’s development and humanitarian assistance there. Ireland’s Ambassador-Designate to Zimbabwe, based in South Africa, is in regular communication with the EU Delegation and EU counterparts in Harare. EU Ambassadors last held a formal political dialogue with the Government of Zimbabwe in November 2019 and arrangements are being made for a further dialogue to take place before the end of 2020.
Ireland’s development assistance in Zimbabwe amounts to €5 million in 2020, targeted mainly towards the delivery of essential health services to women and children – now critical in light of COVID-19 – and supporting civil society to promote good governance and human rights. Ireland works directly with a number of UN agencies and also provides support for the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator. In this context, we maintain close and ongoing engagement with our UN partners. Irish NGOs, Goal and Trócaire are also working on the ground to support local civil society organisations and provide humanitarian assistance.
Ireland will continue to monitor closely developments in Zimbabwe. Together with the EU, we urge the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure that the fundamental human rights of all Zimbabweans are protected, and to undertake an inclusive national dialogue involving all political and civil society stakeholders, as the most credible path to a more peaceful and stable Zimbabwe.