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Goff condemns government actions in Zimbabwe

Goff condemns government actions in Zimbabwe

Foreign Minister Phil Goff has written to Zimbabwe's Parliamentary Speaker John Nkomo strongly protesting the inhumane prison conditions in which Opposition MP Roy Bennett is being held.

Mr Bennett was jailed with hard labour last year for pushing a government minister during a heated debate on land reform in Parliament. At the time, Mr Goff said the way the matter was handled raised serious concerns that the Zimbabwe government was trying to stifle and intimidate opposition politicians.

"I am disturbed to hear that Mr Bennett's condition has deteriorated significantly since his transfer to Chikurubi Farm prison. There are reliable reports that his ill-treatment, including beatings by guards, is threatening his life," Mr Goff said.

"Justice and humanity demand that his life not be put at risk, particularly given the relatively minor offence for which he was convicted. The situation is an affront to every sense of decency and fair play."

Mr Goff also condemned the Zimbabwe government's recent actions against squatter settlements as a further attempt to stifle opposition to the regime.

“New Zealand condemns the government’s so-called 'Operation Clean Sweep and Restore Order' policy. The brutal actions carried out under this policy have resulted in over 20,000 people being arrested and hundreds of thousands displaced and their homes and livelihoods destroyed.

"This constitutes a gross abuse of human rights, and a blatant disregard for the rule of law. The Zimbabwean government must protect, not destroy, the welfare and rights of this already disadvantaged section of the community.

“Recent reports of an impending food crisis facing an estimated 4.5 million Zimbabweans, and the severe shortage of basic commodities are also deeply worrying.

“Zimbabwe, a once great and prosperous country, is slipping towards self-destruction. The endemic problems facing Zimbabwe are an indictment of the mismanagement by its own government.

“The government of Zimbabwe must cease these abuses against its own people,” Mr Goff said.

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