South Africa 'acting as Robert Mugabe's condom'

JOHHANESBURG – A secret international civil-society mission has returned from Zimbabwe to report that the humanitarian and human rights crises there are far worse than the world realises.\r\n

A three-member team travelled clandestinely across Zimbabwe from December 19 to 26 and shot a film – Time 2 Act – which it is sending to the heads of the SA government, the ANC, the Southern African Development Community and the African Union.

The aim is to persuade these leaders to put more pressure on President Robert Mugabe’s government "to restore democracy and constitutional order".

Civicus, an alliance of international civil-society organisations, showed its film at a press conference at the Central Methodist Church in Joburg, haven for hundreds of Zimbabwean refugees.

Civicus also plans to mobilise greater protests by South Africans, including students, against the Mugabe government and to name and shame South African companies operating there.

Sipho Theyse, co-ordinator of the Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum, said his organisation was listing SA companies in Zimbabwe which he said were contributing to the suffering of the people.

In the film, several Zimbabwean church, trade union and community leaders, as well as ordinary citizens, give voice to the suffering of the country, which has gone without a properly functioning government for nine months.

"South Africa is acting as a condom to Mugabe," said one Zimbabwean interviewed in the film.

"It is time for South Africa, SADC and the AU to mobilise against the Mugabe government," said Kumi Naidoo, the honorary president of Civicus.