Cape Town – President Barack Obama should tighten screws
on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's administration in order to force the
regime to implement reforms ahead of polls, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said,
according to Daily News.
Dewa Mavhinga, HRW’s Africa senior researcher told the US Congress
last week that despite the implementation of a modicum of reforms in Zimbabwe,
the political landscape remained hazardous and should be fine-tuned before the
holding of this year’s watershed polls.
"During my visit to Zimbabwe last month, people told me of
their great fear that the coming elections might just be another cycle of
political violence because little had changed on the ground to build their
confidence that they can vote freely," Mavhinga told the committee.
HRW's stance resonates with the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) which on June 15, called upon Mugabe and his coalition
partners, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Industry and Commerce minister
Welshman Ncube to work on implementing
security sector and media reforms before holding make-or-break
With disagreements escalating in the four-year-old coalition
over poll dates, Mavhinga called on the US to exert pressure on Mugabe through
Sadc to create an environment conducive for holding credible elections.
"We call on the Obama administration to work closely with
SADC and urgently take steps to: ensure the political neutrality of the
security forces, namely by investigating and prosecuting alleged abuses by
security force personnel and publicly directing the leadership of the security
forces to carry out their responsibilities in a professional and impartial
manner, and appropriately punishing or prosecuting those who fail to do so,"
Zimbabwe is expected to hold elections sometime this year to
end a unity government formed in 2009 following disputed elections in the