Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating Human Rights Day, a day that is observed every year on the 10th of December. The day is historic in that it is the day that the United Nations General Assembly, adopted in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a milestone document that proclaimed the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being regardless of race, creed, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

This year’s Human Rights Day celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Day. In his statement on the occasion of Human Rights Day, United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, underscored the need for people around the world to stand for human rights.”Now more than ever, our shared duty is clear: Let us stand for human rights for everyone, everywhere”, he said.

For Zimbabwe, however, Human Rights day comes at a time when the country is eagerly waiting for the report of the Commission of Inquiry into the 1 August 2018 shootings that left seven people dead and several injured. The 1 August 2018 demonstration was on the delays in the announcement of election results. Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights states that “Human Beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right”. The right to life is inalienable and is a fundamental human right that must be enjoyed and celebrated by everyone. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”. Such regional and international human rights instruments compel nations to further upholding of human rights by enforcing and respecting laws that help in the realization and enjoyment of fundamental human rights.

For Zimbabwe, Human Rights Day must serve as a reminder to the government on the need to demonstrate political will and create a conducive environment where citizens enjoy fundamental human rights such as right to life that is explicitly provided for in Section 48 of the constitution. To demonstrate political will, the government must publicize reports by previous commissions such as the Dumbutshena and Chihambakwe commissions that investigated the early 1980s Gukurahundi atrocities. In addition to this, the government must also publicize and act decisively on the report that will be released by the Commission set up after the 1 August 2018 army shootings. Government must also set up an independent complaints mechanism in compliance with section 210 of the constitution to allow members of the public to report misconduct on the part of members of the security services.

Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Day of Peace. The commemorations this year are running under the theme, “The Right to Peace-The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70”. The theme for this year celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides among many rights, the right to freedom from torture and access to justice. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is an elaborate document that was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on the 10th December 1948 in Paris.

 In his message on this an historic day, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, underscored the need for all nations to uphold the provisions enunciated in the UDHR.”“It is time all nations and all people live up to the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human race. This year marks the 70th anniversary of that landmark document.” he said.

 Article 5 of the African (Banjul) Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights highlights that, “Every individual shall have the right to the respect of the dignity inherent in a human being and to the recognition of his legal status. All forms of exploitation and degradation of man particularly slavery, slave trade, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment shall be prohibited”. Such a provision compels member states like Zimbabwe to cultivate a culture of upholding the fundamental human rights and freedoms such as freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Chapter 232 of the constitution of Zimbabwe establishes Independent Commissions particularly the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) whose mandate as enunciated in Section 252 (b) is to “develop and implement programmes to promote national healing, unity and cohesion in Zimbabwe and the peaceful resolution of disputes”.

 Heal Zimbabwe commends the NPRC for embarking on national consultative meetings that sought to engage stakeholders on issues of national healing and reconciliation in the past, in fact, the critical need for a comprehensive healing and reconciliation process remains urgent.The snail’s pace with which the NPRC is carrying out its constitutional mandate such as ensuring post -conflict justice, healing and reconciliation is not only worrying but frustrating given that the nation is in dire need of healing and reconciliation. It is Heal Zimbabwe’s view that by now, NPRC would have commenced in earnest tackling key reconciliation issues such as Gukurahundi and the 2008 violence among others.

 On the occasion of the International Day of Peace, Heal Zimbabwe implores the NPRC to urgently address reconciliation issues that were raised by stakeholders during consultative meetings earlier this year. Added to this, the NPRC must swiftly move in to tackle contentious reconciliation issues such as Gukurahundi in compliance with Section 252 (c) of the constitution that stipulates that the NPRC must “bring about national reconciliation by encouraging people to tell the truth about the past and facilitating the making of amends and the provision of justice”

Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. This special day is commemorated annually on the 30th of August. The International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances was passed under resolution 65/209 on 21 December 2010 which expressed great concern on the rising cases of involuntary disappearances. This culminated into the adoption of the International Convention for the protection of all Persons of Enforced Disappearances where 30 August was declared as the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. The Convention recognizes the right of victims and their families to know the truth regarding the circumstances and fate of the disappeared person.

 The commemoration of this important day serves to remind states on the need to enact specific laws that protect citizens against the crime of enforced disappearance. This can only be achieved through investigating reports of enforced disappearance and bringing those responsible to justice. Other obligations are rather of a preventive nature, such as the obligation to detain persons only in officially approved and monitored institutions in which all prisoners are registered and the absolute right to legal services through which a prisoner can be released from unlawful detention.

 Article 1 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance highlight that “no one shall be subjected to enforced disappearance”. Enforced Disappearances remain a crime that is not only degrading but generate insecurity among affected persons. The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) (also known as the Banjul Charter), a regional human rights instrument is also an instrument intended to promote and protect human rights and basic freedoms on the African continent. Article 4 of the ACHPR highlight that “human rights are inviolable” hence every human being shall be entitled to respect for life and integrity. Further to this, Article 23 of the charter also highlight that “all people shall have the right to national and international peace and security”.

 What is rather disturbing is that besides all these international and regional legal instruments that prohibit enforced disappearances, Zimbabwe as a nation with a long history of enforced disappearances has not ratified key conventions that speak to issues relating to state obligations in as far as prevention of enforced disappearance of citizens is concerned. Conventions that Zimbabwe is yet to ratify include the United Nations Convention against Torture or Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (CAT), the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons against Enforced Disappearances as well as the Rome Stature among others.

 To date, Pro Democracy activist, Itai Dzamara who was abducted on 9 March 2015, remains unaccounted for. The occasion of this year’s commemoration of this important day in Zimbabwe offers an opportunity for the Government to expedite the search for Missing persons particularly Itai Dzamara whose search was ordered by the High Court. Abductions remain a gross human rights violation that must be condemned as it is not only degrading but barbaric and a bad practice. Enforced disappearances remain a serious violation of human rights and a crime. Section 53 of the Constitution provides for Freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Such fundamental human rights and freedoms are to be enjoyed by every citizen without selective application.

Heal Zimbabwe  condemns in the strongest terms the use of live ammunition by security services against members of the public who were protesting against alleged electoral theft. On the 1st of August 2018, Zimbabwe Republic Police had running battles with citizens who had marched to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Headquarters (ZEC) as well as the National Elections Command Center housed at the Rainbow Towers Hotel where results were being announced. Along the way, the protestors clashed with the police who prevented them from entering the hotel resulting in a series of running battles. As the chaos intensified, soldiers were then deployed and dispersed the protestors by firing live bullets. In the melee that ensued, three people lost their lives, several injured and property was damaged. The Harare Central Business Centre descended into a war zone as security services used tear smoke to disperse protestors.

 While Heal Zimbabwe does not condone violence during demonstration especially by members of the public, the use of live ammunition by the security services is not only barbaric  and uncalled for but deplorable especially coming from security services who according to section 208 (2d) must not violate the fundamental rights and freedoms of any person. Heal Zimbabwe expected the security services to find peaceful and non-violent means to amicably resolve concerns raised by protestors. Added to this, the right to petition and demonstrate is explicitly provided for in Section 59 of the constitution.

 As the nation eagerly waits for the election results, Heal Zimbabwe implores citizens to exercise peaceful conduct and not resort to violence. Security services must also do everything within their power to ensure that they abide by the constitution which stipulates in Section 206 (a) that they must have utmost respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms and the democratic values and principles enshrined in the constitution. Political parties must also not incite their supporters to resort to violence but rather remain guided by the Peace Pledge that was signed by all political parties on 26 June 2018.  

Heal Zimbabwe notes the increase in cases of violence among political parties as elections draw closer. On 11 July 2018, one person reportedly died while several others were injured when violence broke out in Chitungwiza after suspected ZANU PF activists assaulted residents accusing them of supporting MDC Alliance President, Nelson Chamisa. Heal Zimbabwe has also recorded several cases of assault and intimidation mostly in Masvingo Province, Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland West. This is despite the fact that political parties participating in the elections signed a peace pledge on 26 June 2018 where they committed themselves to a peaceful campaign before, during and after elections.

Heal Zimbabwe notes that while this was a progressive step aimed at inculcating a culture of peace and tolerance, the escalation of cases of violence is a betrayal of the historic peace pledge by political parties. Political parties must demonstrate sincerity on the need for peace by reigning in on supporters that perpetrate violence that seek to make the peace pledge of no effect.

The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), the broker of the peace pledge must without delay engage multiple stakeholders such as civil society in a bid to insulate citizens against acts of violence and intimidation ahead of the elections. This can be done by swiftly establishing effective early warning and early response systems that will help detect areas of potential conflicts, disputes and take appropriate action in compliance with section 252 (g) of the constitution. While the designating of trial magistrates to deal with cases of politically motivated violence by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is commendable, the magistrates must swiftly begin prosecuting people implicated in   cases of politically motivated violence.

Added to this, there is also need to strengthen multi-party liaison committees right from the ward, district and up to national level. If strengthened, these committees can help minimize cases of violence as they are a form of conflict resolution mechanism among political parties. Further to this, political parties must uphold and adhere to principles set out in the Political Parties code of conduct that criminalizes acts of intimidation and violence.

Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Day in support of Victims of Torture. The United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June marks the moment in 1987 when the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into effect. This year’s theme, “From horror to healing” compel governments to eliminate all political, social and economic factors that promote torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. This is a positive step towards   wholesome healing and reconciliation for all survivors of torture.

 For Zimbabwe, the occasion for this year’s commemoration offers an opportunity for the government to ratify the United Nations Convention on Against Torture and other Cruel, inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment with a view to the total eradication of torture. Further to this, Section 53 of the constitution highlights that no citizen may be subjected to physical or psychological torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Past episodes of violence such as Gukurahundi, the 2002,2005 and 2008 elections have seen torture, inhuman and degrading treatment being used as tools to inflict pain and crush dissent on political opponents.

 In the past, Heal Zimbabwe has facilitated for survivors of torture to participate in healing and reconciliation processes such as public hearings on the NPRC bill. During these hearings, victims of torture have advocated for legislation that delivers justice and safeguards them against revictimisation. The lack of a decentralized NPRC especially at the ward and village level for easy access by survivors continues to act as a hurdle in the attainment of a wholesome healing and reconciliation process.

 In light of the above, Heal Zimbabwe implores government to take all the necessary to ensure;

  • That Independent Commissions such as NPRC and Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) are well resourced and empowered enough to offer early warning and early response services ahead of the 2018 elections. This is justified that electoral processes have been marred by acts of torture and degrading treatment targeted at women and political activists
  • All other stakeholders such as the police, army, and other agencies of government must not act in a partisan manner, further interests of any political party or violate the fundamental rights or freedom of any person as provided for in Section 208 of the constitution. This must be complemented by the setting of an Independent Complaints Mechanism as stipulated in Section 210 of the constitution
  •  As a UN member state, the Zimbabwean government must also commit to the upholding of human rights and create a conducive environment for the holding of violent free elections.

The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture came into force on 12 December 1997, by resolution 52/149, when the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed that 26 June be the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, with a view to the total eradication of torture and the effective functioning of the convention against Torture and Other cruel, inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of Africa in commemorating the Day of the African Child. The day celebrated every year on 16 June, was set aside to remember the young people of South Africa who were massacred in Soweto in 1976 for protesting against apartheid system of education. The theme for this year is “Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development”. The 2018 theme highlights the need to ensure that no child is left behind by specifically targeting those who are not benefitting from Africa’s growth and development. The theme also underscores the need for inclusive development for children, that is, whenever undertaking to develop programs and policies for implementing Agenda 2030, children should be at the centre-stage and Member States should ensure that no child is left behind in the drive towards sustainable economic development.

 Zimbabwe is a signatory to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) which compels member states to uphold the rights and welfare of the children. According to a 2010 survey conducted by Heal Zimbabwe in Muzarabani District, 20% of families are child headed as a result of political violence that has remained a permanent feature in the area till this day. This has deprived children of their right to social services such as health and education that are explicitly provided for in the ACRWC. Children of victims of political violence from Muzarabani North ward 3, 23 and Muzarabani South ward 3 and 9 are still being discriminated against in the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM). Under this scheme, School Development Associations (SDA) are run by Councillors who in most instances have barred children of some victims of political violence from benefitting from BEAM citing political reasons.

 To date, Heal Zimbabwe continues to record reports of such discrimination at Muringazuva Primary School, Muringazuva Secondary School, Hoya Primary School, Chiwashira Primary School and Hoya Secondary school. Because of such deprivation, one child who had both parents murdered during the 2008 political violence has been forced into early marriage at the tender age of 15 years. This is despite the fact that Article 21 of the ACRWC provides for Protection against Harmful Social and Cultural Practices where every child is to be protected from early marriage.

 With Zimbabwe scheduled to conduct elections on 30 July 2018, mechanisms that seek to protect children from any form of abuse as provided for in the Zimbabwe constitution on Section 81 (e) still need to be enforced. In the past electoral periods, Heal Zimbabwe has documented gross abuse of children by political parties where in most cases children have been forced to attend political rallies at the expense of their education. In some instances, most children remain vulnerable during electoral periods in the event of eruption of political violence. Past episodes of political violence, particularly the 2008 elections left several children displaced, orphaned and vulnerable after their parents or guardians were murdered.

 For Zimbabwe, the occasion of the Day of the African child offers an opportunity for Government to evaluate progress made in ensuring that children are protected from any form of abuse. Section 19 of the Constitution provides for children’s rights where every child is to be protected from maltreatment, neglect or any form of abuse and have access to appropriate education and training. In light of this, Heal Zimbabwe calls on the Government of Zimbabwe to adopt policies and measures that ensure that every child is protected from violence, abuse or torture and be protected from harmful cultural practices, exploitation and all forms of abuse. With elections fast approaching, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) must without delay develop mechanisms for early detection of areas of potential conflicts and disputes especially those that directly affect children.

 

Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of Africa in commemorating Africa Day. This day is the annual commemoration of the 1963 founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) which later became the African Union (AU).

 For Zimbabwe, Africa Day commemorations offer an opportunity to reflect if the vision of the founding fathers of the AU have been realized to date. One of the key things they envisaged was promotion of unity and solidarity among African states. The commemorations for this year are taking place a few months before Zimbabwe goes for watershed elections. Recent incidences of violence that have been recorded in primary elections for both MDC-T and ZANU PF cast doubt over the possibility of violent free elections. In light of this, Independent Commissions that support Democracy such as the National Peace and Reconciliation Commissions (NPRC) must without delay set up early warning and early response mechanisms for the early detection of conflicts ahead of the 2018 elections.

 Zimbabwe as a member of the African Union must also stand guided by provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, a human rights instrument intended to promote and protect human rights and basic freedoms on the African continent. In addition, one of the Aspirations of Agenda 2063, which is both a vision and an action Plan launched by the African Union in 2015, aims to achieve a peaceful and a secure Africa where mechanisms for peaceful prevention and resolution of conflicts will be functional at all levels. As a first step, dialogue-centered conflict prevention and resolution must be actively promoted and a culture of peace and tolerance must be cultivated among political parties in Zimbabwe.

 In light of this year’s commemorations, Heal Zimbabwe urges government to commit fully and guarantee the conducting of free, fair and violent free elections by putting the necessary infrastructure in place such as fully capacitating Independent Commissions that support Democracy such as NPRC for effective discharge of their constitutional duties. This is a direct contribution to the African Union vision of Agenda 2063, which aims to achieve a peaceful and secure Africa where all mechanisms for peaceful prevention and resolution of conflicts will be functional at all levels.

 

 

Heal Zimbabwe is appalled by violent episodes of intra-party violence that rocked MDC-T consensus meetings in several districts across the country over the weekend. In Budiriro, Harare, MDC-T supporters clashed during a consensus meeting at Budiriro 2 Training centre after disagreements over the selection of Parliamentary and Council candidates. Budiriro Legislator, Costa Machingauta had to flee the venue of the meeting as party youths charged against him. In Glen View North, party supporters turned violent and accused sitting Legislator Fani Munengami of maliciously removing names of those contesting him in the party’s primary elections. Similar incidences of violence were also recorded in Glen View South where Vimbai Tsvangirai Java an aspiring Legislator had to be escorted out of the venue after party supporters turned violent and accused her of imposing herself in the constituency. Several incidences of violence and intimidation were also recorded in Glen Norah, Zengeza, Kambuzuma and Gokwe.

 HZT is dismayed by the continued disregard of political tolerance among political parties as the nation braces for the much awaited 2018 elections. Hardly a week ago, violence and intimidation rocked ZANU PF primary elections as party supporters clashed over reports of vote rigging and manipulation of voter registers. Heal Zimbabwe views the lack of political tolerance as a recipe for political violence. It is also Heal Zimbabwe’s view that tolerance, pluralism are principles central to the attainment of peace and also form core pillars of democracy.

 In light of this, Heal Zimbabwe implores MDC-T and other political parties to abide by the Electoral Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Candidates which stipulates that NO political party or any of its members or supporters, and NO candidate or any of his or her supporters, may:

 (a) Use violence, or threaten violence or incite or encourage the use of violence, against anyone on account of his or her political opinions or membership or support of a political party or participation in the election;

(b) Intimidate, or incite or encourage the intimidation, of anyone on account of his or her political opinions or membership or support of a political party; act in a way that may provoke violence or intimidation;

(c) Use violence or threats or illegal pressure to force voter to refrain from voting or to vote for a candidate or political party against his or her will;

(d) Force a voter to reveal the identity of the candidate voted for or take reprisals against a person because of the way in which he or she has voted or is believed to have voted.

 Heal Zimbabwe implores Independent Commissions that support democracy such as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) to work hand in glove with other key stakeholders to set up early warning and early response mechanism to detect and respond to cases of political violence. Added to this, the police must also effectively maintain order without fear and bias as enshrined in Section 219 of the constitution. Political parties must also come up with stiffer penalties for supporters who perpetrate violence.

 

Heal Zimbabwe condemns in the strongest terms the intra-party violence that occurred during the ZANU PF primary elections held from the 29th of April to the 1st of May 2018. The ZANU PF primary elections were marred by serious irregularities that include violence, intimidation, assault, vote buying, ballot stuffing and the use of police officers in the management the primary elections. Members of the police were deployed throughout the country to act a polling agents during the primary elections. Some of the irregularities were recorded in the following areas: in Centenary, Mashonaland Central, voting was stopped after disgruntled supporters violently protested against ballot stuffing and being blocked to vote at Mukwengure Primary School.

 In Kwekwe Ward 9, Councillor Kandu Lawe on the 29th of April 2018 stormed Amaveni polling station over some cell register irregularities and threatened to assault polling agents if they continued with the primary elections. In another case aspiring candidate for Kwekwe Central, John Mapurazi pulled out of the elections citing violence and intimidation. ZANU PF supporters violently seized and burnt ballot papers in Murehwa South at Craiglea Primary School.

 In Chegutu West, Dexter Nduna publicly fired shots in the air at Chinengundu Primary School on the 1st of May 2018. In Muzarabani South ward 17, Village head and ZANU PF District Chairman George Kambudzi an agent for Councillor Proud Pfotso on the 30th of April 2018, assaulted Feira Moya for supporting Maxwell Kangosa an aspiring councillor for Muzarabani ward 17 at Kambudzi Primary School.

 Heal Zimbabwe perceives the violent clashes as barbaric and uncalled for as they cast doubt over the possibility of peaceful, free and fair elections. The organisation condemns the use of the Zimbabwe Republic Police in the management of the primary elections, a direct contradiction of section 219 (2) of the constitution which clearly stipulates that the police must be nonpartisan.

 Heal Zimbabwe implores ZANU PF and other political parties who are yet to conduct primary elections to abide by the Electoral Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Candidates which stipulates that NO political party or any of its members or supporters, and NO candidate or any of his or her supporters, may:

 (a) Use violence, or threaten violence or incite or encourage the use of violence, against anyone on account of his or her political opinions or membership or support of a political party or participation in the election;

(b) Intimidate, or incite or encourage the intimidation, of anyone on account of his or her political opinions or membership or support of a political party; act in a way that may provoke violence or intimidation;

(c) Use violence or threats or illegal pressure to force voter to refrain from voting or to vote for a candidate or political party against his or her will;

(d) Force a voter to reveal the identity of the candidate voted for or take reprisals against a person because of the way in which he or she has voted or is believed to have voted.

 Heal Zimbabwe implores the police as law enforcement agencies to maintain law and order without fear or favour as enshrined in the constitution and ensure that the environment is peaceful for all citizens.  HZT further calls for political parties to value human life and take all necessary measures to uphold peace. Political parties must punish rogue supporters responsible for violence and establish sustainable peaceful measures of deterring future violent conflicts. The organization further urges all political parties to promote a culture of peace and tolerance within its structures as the nation approaches the elections.

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