Harare –The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) takes seriously the recent attacks by President Robert Mugabe on the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) as reflective of the Head of State and Government’s worrisome and negative attitude towards basic human rights in the country.
Following a report of investigations by the ZHRC on human rights violations concerning partisan food aid distribution, the President launched personal attacks on the Human Rights Commission’s chairperson, Mr. Elasto Mugwadi, and other Commissioners and deployed language meant to denigrate them and discredit their important work.
The President should be reminded that the independent constitutional Commission does not report to individual politicians, but to the Parliament of Zimbabwe which is a separate arm from the executive.
The Human Commission should be allowed to carry out is mandate without being subjected to unwarranted abuse, interference, and naked threats from political actors in evident disregard of the requirement that the constitutional body should conduct its public business independently.
As a Head of State and Government who is sworn to defending the people-driven Constitution of Zimbabwe, President Mugabe’s utterances betray a knee-jerk inclination to defend his political party, Zanu-PF’s officials who are accused of perpetuating discrimination than his constitutional duty and the public good to serve all citizens regardless of political affiliation.
Sections of 56 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe ensures equality and non-discrimination, and Section 77 guarantees the right to food, and the acts of partisan distribution of food aid and agricultural inputs grossly violate these fundamental human rights.
The revelations by the ZHRC are not new as many similar cases of discrimination in food aid and agricultural inputs were repeatedly reported by various civil society organisations, including ZimRights, the media and certain Members of Parliament over the past months, since and even before the onset of the current drought affecting many parts of the country.
This wave of concern from various stakeholders prompted earlier remarks from the President and Labour and Social Welfare Minister clarifying the position that government policy did not endorse discrimination in social welfare programs.
Given the importance of the human rights matter during the ongoing El-Nino induced drought affecting over 4 million people in the country, and the relief efforts by the government and humanitarian agencies, the ZHRC had a clear duty to investigate the continued concerns of discrimination brought to it by members of affected communities.
If President Robert Mugabe was true to his earlier word against discrimination the report by the ZHRC should move the government to discipline officials who are involved and perpetuating the human rights violations against government policy, the Constitution’s Bill of Rights and international human rights and humanitarian principles.
ZimRights is therefore concerned that despite spirited efforts by other stakeholders and of late the ZHRC, the utterances to the effect that these reports are false by the President encourages rather than discourage public officials who are behind such a clearly unconstitutional and inhuman practise that violates Ubuntu/Unhu.
For further inquiries contact:
National Chairperson, Passmore Nyakureba 0772 339 159 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
National Director, Okay Machisa: 0772 135 882 email: email@example.com