Methodist Church Bishop and prominent proponent of human rights in South Africa, Bishop Paul Veryn has challenged the Zimbabwean government to uphold the fundamental rights and freedoms of its citizens, as human rights violations continue to escalate in Zimbabwe.

Addressing a Zimbabwean delegation of civil society and social movements that is on a regional mission in South Africa, Bishop Veryn also called upon Africans to denounce human rights abuses including xenophobia.

In a scathing attack, Bishop Veryn castigated the Zimbabwean government for failing to respect its citizens. He said there were several South Africans willing to help Zimbabweans to find a lasting solution to its current crisis.

Bishop Veryn said what was happening in Zimbabwe was “painful” adding that the South African government ought to act to extricate Zimbabwe from the current social, economic and political crisis. He said it was critical for SADC and South Africa to act in resolving the Zimbabwean crisis as it could become a regional problem if not urgently addressed.

Bishop Veryn hailed Zimbabweans for their intellect and human capital which he said South Africa could take advantage of, instead of ill-treating Zimbabweans who find their way into South Africa legally or otherwise.

“The intellectual capacity of Zimbabweans is amazing and someone up there should find a way that ensures strategic use of the human capital so that Zimbabweans are able to fend for their families while contributing to economic growth in South Africa and the region. We cannot put this human capital to waste”, said Bishop Veryn.

Bishop Veryn also called on documentation of the abuses that are happening in Zimbabwe to enable healing processes in the future.

The Director of Platform for Youth Development (PYD), who is also the Chairperson of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition youth cluster, Claris Madhuku bemoaned that young people had lost hope in the current government due to the fact that electoral promises made during the 2013 election were not fulfilled.

“The ruling party promised the young people 2.2 million jobs and business opportunities through the Zimbabwe agenda for social and economic transformation (Zimasset). Instead unemployment has risen with more than ten companies closing every month. Young graduates now find their way into the streets as vendors and cannot use skills gained at colleges and universities”, Madhuku retorted.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Director, Memory Kadau called for people to people solidarity between Zimbabwe and South Africa. She said the regional mission was the beginning of engagement between Zimbabwean civil society and wielders of power and influence in the region.

She also appealed to Bishop Veryn to use his prominence and influence to urge the South African government to engage SADC to put Zimbabwe back on its agenda as a hotspot in the region.

“We know you have influence; we know you have the convening authority to bring together eminent people that can convince the South African government to act on Zimbabwe. We will do our part but we are aware you can add a strong voice to our call”, said Kadau.

The Zimbabwean  delegation was comprised of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Board Chairperson, Sally Dura, Crisis Coalition Youth Chairperson and Platform for Youth Development(PYD)  Director, Claris Madhuku,  Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions(ZCTU) Advocacy and International Relations Officer, Vimbai , Zimbabwe Democracy Institute(ZDI) Director, Dr. Pedzisayi Ruhanya, Young Voters Platform(YVP) National Coordinator, Nixon Nyikadzino, #Tajamuka Spokesperson, Promise Mkwananzi and National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe(NAVUZ)  Chairperson, Sten Zvorwadza.