Zimbabwean Grantee Sends Open Letter To Robert Mugabe

Civil society in Zimbabwe reels from the years of government restrictions and the severe economic decline of  the country, even as the two opposing parties led by Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai arrived at a lukewarm political truce. Read an open letter to Mugabe, by long-time Global Fund grantee FEMNET, also published in Pambazuka News:

Norah Matovu Winyi

9th July, 2008
The Office of the President
Cause Way

Your Excellency,


The African Women Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), a Pan- African Network working for the promotion and protection of the rights of women and children in the Africa Region is greatly disturbed by the unfolding events in this great African country Zimbabwe.

We note with concern the continued suffering of women and children in this country who have been victimized for no apparent reason or cause. Ironically their alleged crime is that they or their male relatives have participated in the democratic process of their country and expressed their choice of leadership for their country!!! The sham runoff election for presidency held on the 27th of June was marred with pre- and post election violence which has led to untold suffering for the people of Zimbabwe, loss of life (for example over 220 people linked with the opposition have died since March 2008), destruction of property and forced displacement of people majority of whom are women and children and in the process many have become victims of sexual abuse and other forms of violations of their body integrity.

Mr. Mugabe, you have a great history as one of the freedom fighters of Zimbabwe and you will always be acknowledged and remembered for the great contribution and sacrifice you personally made to bring freedom to all the people of Zimbabwe. We acknowledge the complexity of the situation in Zimbabwe. However, we believe that your continued unlawful stay in power as the President of Zimbabwe is not benefiting the majority of men and women of your country. Women and children of comrades in the opposition have been deliberately attacked, many have been forced out of their homes and fled the country, and others are currently in safe custody with embassies of foreign countries that still exist in your country. This is a real shame and a total mockery of democracy. We strongly believe that your autocratic leadership is a total disgrace to the people of Zimbabwe and the whole of Africa.

FEMNET joins the Presidents of Africa countries and other civil society organizations in Africa to condemn in the strongest terms the undemocratic elections that took place in Zimbabwe on the 27th of June 2008. Your political conduct is unacceptable and shameful to the entire continent of Africa.

We therefore call upon you Mr. Mugabe to do the following:

- To lead a process not exceeding six months, that will result into a peaceful hand over of power to new leaders that have credibility in the eyes of the people of Zimbabwe, the African people and the international community;

- To ensure that an environment of peace, free from intimidation and political violence is guaranteed by the Government of Zimbabwe for all people both supporters of the ruling party and those in opposition. This is an essential prerequisite for the peaceful process of transfer of power and authority to the new leaders of Zimbabwe. It is a constitutional right for citizens to have protection of their rights to personal security and not to be subjected to any form of abuse, torture, or inhuman treatment;

- To respect the rights of the people of Zimbabwe to associate and form political parties as part of the democratic process and to choose their leaders. These rights are guaranteed in Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 10 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights to which Zimbabwe is a party. The Constitution of Zimbabwe also guarantees these rights in Article 20 and 21.

- To ensure that women and children of Zimbabwe are protected from unscrupulous elements in society that are taking advantage of the unrest and uncertainty and are abusing and disregarding their rights and freedoms.

- To work towards a legacy of facilitating a peaceful transfer of power to new leaders in Zimbabwe by the end of 2008.

Note that in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe especially the women and children of this great country, the women of Africa through FEMNET:

- Urge the African Union and its member states and also SADC countries to prevail upon you Mr. Mugabe to hand over power peacefully by December 2008 in order to transform the electoral and political crisis in your country into an opportunity for the development of a sustainable democracy.

- Demand for the immediate cessation of all acts of political violence and intimidation and all those engaging in acts of political violence, especially militia and youth groups supported by your party in power should be dealt with expeditiously in accordance with the law. We urge all political parties of Zimbabwe to exercise restraint and desist from employing intimidation and violent tactics.

- Call upon your Government to guarantee the safety and freedom of all people in Zimbabwe, especially women and children, irrespective of their political beliefs and choices.

- Are committed to stand with the women of Zimbabwe in and outside the country at this very precarious moment. We shall continue speaking out with courage against the undemocratic behaviour exhibited by different parties involved in this crisis.

- Will continue to strongly pressurize other leaders in the region to stand up against Mr. Mugabe and for democracy in Africa.

Democracy shall prevail.

*Norah Matovu Winyi is the executive director of FEMNET. This letter was written on behalf of the women’ rights movement in Africa.

*Please send comments to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/


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