BY FARAI MATIASHE
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government of lacking political will to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis and human rights violations, mainly perpetrated by the State and its institutions.
In its report, State of Human Rights Report Zimbabwe 2018, the NGO Forum said the human rights violations could be addressed at no cost.
“… 72% of the violations documented in this report do not require money to address or resolve. They only require political will: Stopping harmful behaviour by the government and its institutions. There must be political will to adhere to best practices in human rights and to implement the Constitution to which public officials swear allegiance to, and which is the social contract by which Zimbabweans (who will be governed),” part of the recommendations from the report read.
“The investment in developing a new Constitution was staggering, and it can only make sense if the Constitution is respected and implemented.”
The NGO Forum accused the government of using hide-and-seek tactics with citizens, instead of engaging them to have meaningful dialogue.
“Currently, Zimbabwe is in political crisis; there is no national agenda and unity of purpose. Political leaders in government are not having dialogue with each other in shaping the policy vision. The State is not having dialogue with its citizens, preferring hide-and-seek tactics,” the report reads.
Mnangagwa, early this year, invited political party leaders who participated in the 2018 harmonised elections to a dialogue, but the main opposition MDC party leader Nelson Chamisa snubbed the dialogue, accusing the Zanu PF leader of electoral fraud and described the dialogue as biased and not inclusive.
The NGO Forum slammed the ongoing dialogue for excluding the labour and civil society and recommended that government should urgently hold a dialogue which is inclusive of all citizens.
“High-level political dialogue remains imperative to unlock national progress. Civil society must be included in the national dialogue process. This would create an environment in which Zimbabweans can broadly dialogue and agree to create a human rights culture premised on tolerance, respect for each other and respect of the law,” the report continued.
The NGO Forum said the military and police, which have been the primary culprits in cases of human rights abuse, must not be partisan and must desist from violating human rights.
Addressing journalist at a pre-launch of the report in Harare on Monday, Forum programmes co-ordinator Dzikamai Bere said law reform must not be piecemeal and token, but wholesome and substantive.
“The sooner the country does away with the Public Order and Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and related repressive laws and provisions of the law, the better the country can do with human rights protection. Laws not compliant with the Constitution must be brought to conformity. Legislation that is contemplated by the Constitution must be passed,” he said.
“We don’t need to reform (repressive laws) to please the West and America. We need to respect human rights because it is good for us as Zimbabweans. There shouldn’t be a token. Of course, the Western countries can clap hands for us, but we are not necessarily doing this for them.”
But Information permanent secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana yesterday denied allegations that the government was not taking initiatives to engage its own citizens.
“The allegations are not accurate. We engage all citizens and all other stakeholders including civic society. Ours is one of the most important engaging governments south of the equator,” he said.