by Phyllis Mbanje

HUMAN rights stakeholders have been urged to stop throwing brickbats at each other, but collaborate to address the country’s worsening political and socio-economic crises which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Apart from the economic meltdown, food insecurity and political uncertainty, Zimbabwe is experiencing gross human rights abuses characterised by shrinking democratic space and arrests of opposition and rights activists.

Addressing civil society organisations (CSOs) and activists during a virtual meeting, Action Aid Zimbabwe director Joy Mabenge said there was need for stakeholders in the human rights sector to come together and build the country instead of “throwing” stones at each other.

“We should build a culture of peace and democracy and not destroy our country. These conversations must build momentum,” Mabenge said, adding that civic organisations and other stakeholders should identify areas where government can be held accountable and map the way forward collectively.

Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) president Obert Masaraure said over five million pupils were currently being deprived of their right to education as a result of the teachers’ ongoing strike.

He called for critical dialogue to address the labour dispute between government and educators.

Also speaking during the meeting, Glenn Farred from the Sadc Council of NGOs said there was need for civic diplomacy and advocacy at both the African Union and Sadc levels.

Lucy Chivasa from Amnesty International said civic organisations should take individuals on board and work together to build solidarity at grassroot level.

“Amendment of the Constitution already shows that we are a divided front. As civic organisations, we will have different preferences of certain articles of the amendments.”

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