THE Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) has urged heads of State of Southern African Development Community (Sadc) countries to uphold democracy and human rights.

Sadc heads of State are expected to hold a summit from August 17 to 18 in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Africa at large has made considerable commitments to ensuring good governance and democracy according to global, regional and localised standards. This progress has come into question in recent times due to the increase in abuse of human rights. The shrinking of democratic space is even more concerning as it denies the enjoyment of socioeconomic freedoms by citizens as they are unable to express themselves,” Zimcodd said in a statement. Zimcodd said civic society in Zimbabwe was under threat due to oppressive legislation being crafted, such as the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment (PVOs) Bill.

The Bill is viewed as oppressive and is seen as criminalising the work of non-governmental organisations, and has heavy criminal and civil penalties for vaguely defined offences.

It will also give powers to the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister to register and de-register PVOs.

On illicit financial flows (IFFs), Zimcodd said there was need for Sadc leaders to come up with sustainable solutions and to have political will to curb IFFs.

Zimbabwe is reported to be losing around US$1 billion annually to IFFs.

“China is owed over US$78 billion by Sub-Saharan Africa, a huge burden that will limit further borrowing while placing iron weights on future generations’ development aspirations. As it stands, there is need to rationalise the debts that African leaders are committing to,” Zimcodd said.

It said that the evolving confluence of debt and corruption scandals in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Zambia were growing cause for concern.

On social safety nets, Zimcodd urged governments to increase budgetary support for vulnerable groups such as women, people with disabilities and the elderly.

Source Newsday