What is happening in Zimbabwe is sad and shocking.

What makes it very sad is the fact that both the Southern African Development Community and the African Union are silent on the brutality of the Zimbabwean regime of Emmerson Mnangagwa.

It’s not treason for a Zimbabwean citizen to protest government decisions and actions. And the decision by the Zimbabwean government to increase fuel prices by such a gigantic percentage calls for citizens to protest. Today Zimbabwe has the most expensive fuel in the world. And this should go unchallenged by citizens protesting?

Zimbabweans have been very patient with their government over the very harsh economic conditions they have endured for a decade. Why should they be treated with high handedness when they protest these very difficult economic conditions?

Most people thought police brutality in Zimbabwe would end with the Robert Mugabe regime. They were wrong.

The military regime of Mnangagwa seems to be even more brutal.

Anyway, signs of what was in stock for Zimbabweans was exhibited in the protests that followed Zimbabwe’s last elections. The Zimbabwean army was unleashed on a defenceless and unarmed protesters.

And Mnangagwa’s role in the Matebeleland massacre of 1980 has not been forgotten!

As Dr Fred M’membe correctly observes, the plight of Zimbabweans requires our urgent attention.

This brutality cannot be justified. We all expected Mnangagwa to be more respecting of human rights than the regime he replaced. Our expectations were unfounded because Mnangagwa and the soldiers he is ruling with were at the centre of Mugabe’s brutal and intolerant regime.

The recent fuel hike means petrol prices rose from $1.24 a litre to $3.31 with diesel up from $1.36 a litre to $3.11. At these prices, Zimbabwe has the most expensive gasoline in the world per litre.

And Mnangagwa’s government expects the Zimbabwean people to take this without protest?

These people are not after regime change. They are simply protesting against unbearable living conditions.

They are pleading for a livelihood. These are people who in all these difficult years of sanctions and economic decline have supported Zanu-PF. Today they are being maimed or even killed for simply telling their government to do something about their suffering and not to worsen the situation with high fuel prices.

And the use of soldiers in policing is not advisable. Soldiers are not trained in policing; they are trained to kill. The results of using them in policing are there for all to see!

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC/Commission) had recently raised concern about the fast deteriorating economic situation triggered by the recent monetary and fiscal policy pronouncements.

“Whilst austerity measures meant to transform the performance of the economy may be inevitable, due care and diligence must be exercised to protect the rights and well-being of especially the vulnerable members of society. In particular, it is important to develop pro-poor policies including the setting up of effective social safety nets to ensure access to basic goods and services by all. Section 13 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe implores the state and all institutions of government to ensure equitable development. Further, section 13 (2) requires government to involve the people in the formulation and implementation of development plans and programmes that affect them,” stated ZHRC, urging the national leadership to take urgent steps to rescue the situation as well as protect the value of savings, incomes and pensions.

The situation in Zimbabwe cannot be allowed to continue. Urgent measures are needed to avoid a catastrophe. The signs of what is next are clear to all. The time to act is now./