Zim situation worsening as Africa celebrates Human Rights Day
by Mthulisi Mathuthu
Africa celebrated Human Rights Day on Monday, but according to a leading human rights organization Zimbabweans had little to celebrate as democracy continues to be undermined.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) fingered the ‘state and non state actors’ in continued ‘flagrant violations’ of citizens’ fundamental rights under the ‘successor government to the coalition administration’.
Singled out was the Zimbabwe Republic Police who are referred to as ‘overzealous’ as they ‘act with impunity’ banning trade union activities even against court orders for them to stop doing so.
The statement also lamented ‘arbitrary arrests, detention, prosecution and persecution of human rights defenders and ordinary citizens, including harmless mothers and children’.
The ZLHR added that ‘national healing processes have failed to materialise or to contribute meaningfully to rebuilding the shattered lives of those who have suffered grave violations throughout history’.
ZLHR executive director Irene Petras told SW Radio Africa that there were still ‘a lot of challenges’ to be tackled despite the ‘absence of brazen violence’.
The ZLHR statement said it was unacceptable that the majority of Zimbabweans remain unemployed or informally employed and were unable to afford basic necessities in a country endowed with natural resources. Also condemned were ‘slave wages’, ‘grinding poverty’ and ‘shallow promises of empowerment and indigenisation programmes.’
ZLHR noted with ‘deep concern’ the fact that the government continues to ignore ‘with impunity’ the African Union’s recommendations, such the Diasporans’ right to vote in national elections.
The organization added that it is a ‘scandal’ that the victims of Operation Murambatsvina are still without shelter eight years on as the government contravened ‘clear recommendations’ by both the AU and the UN to ensure otherwise.
ZLHR said instead of ‘criminalising free speech and access to diverse information and free assembly’ the government should speed up reforms and ensure the country’s laws comply with the new constitution.
The forthright statement follows recent reports that ZLHR had recorded ‘70 cases’ of people arrested for denigrating Mugabe’s name. Also the statement comes after the UK-based Zimbabwe Vigil organisation announced that one of its members recently in Zimbabwe reported an increase in ‘hustling’, police bribery and poverty.
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