SADC Summit Must Tackle Regional Democracy Challenges

Washington

Ahead of next week’s Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit, where Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will assume the chairmanship of the regional body, Freedom House released the following statement:

“Southern Africa is facing a number of democracy challenges that SADC needs to take a leading role in addressing,” said Vukasin Petrovic, director for Africa at Freedom House. “Increasing attacks on civil society and political opposition in Zambia, escalating repression of human rights activists in Swaziland, and the ongoing economic crisis in Zimbabwe all pose serious threats to regional stability. This SADC summit must therefore be seized as an opportunity to tackle these crises head on and should avoid becoming yet another SADC formality where some leaders are congratulated, even in the face of egregious human rights violations.”

“Worryingly, with Robert Mugabe now as chair of SADC the region, is faced with a leader who has actively subverted democratic processes and restricted the rights of his own citizens for more than 30 years. He is now responsible for ensuring that SADC members comply with agreed upon democratic norms and standards. It is therefore more important than ever that democratic states within SADC come to the fore to actively defend and promote the foundational human rights principles enshrined in the SADC Treaty over the year ahead.”

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter (freedomhouse). Stay up to date with Freedom House’s latest news and events by signing up for our newsletter and our blog.