Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Day of Peace. The commemorations for this year are running under the theme,” Shaping Peace Together.”The theme is a clarion call to spread compassion, kindness and hope in the face of the COVID 19 pandemic. It also calls United Nations member states to stand together with the United Nations against attempts to use the virus to promote discrimination or hatred.
Unfortunately for Zimbabwe, the current episodes where the state has gone in overdrive in targeting citizens through dragnet arrests, abductions and torture continues to create fissures and dents on all attempts to enjoy fundamental human rights and freedoms by citizens that are well provided for in the constitution. A case in point is the recent abduction and torture of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) President, Takudzwa Ngadziore who was brutalized for speaking out against the abduction of Tawanda Muchehiwa, nephew to Zimlive Editor, Mduduzi Mathuthu who was abducted by state agents and was subjected to torture and all sorts of degrading for three days. The Ngadziore case is not the only case where the state has been implicated in the use of abductions. On 13 May 2020, MDC Alliance Legislator, Joana Mamombe, Vice Chairperson, Cecelia Chimbiri and the party’s Deputy Organising Secretary,Netsai Marova were abducted by alleged state agents. All these incidents have disrupted peace and social cohesion in the country. The eroding of confidence by citizens in the state has created a fearful citizen who is afraid to make positive contributions towards peace. Added to this, the economic crisis that Government seems reluctant to address has potential of plunging the country into a wave of uncertainty and turmoil. All this dampen the spirit of commemorating the international day of peace.
Article 5 of the African (Banjul) Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights highlight 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”. The UN Resolution 2250 (2015) adopted by the Security Council on 9 December 2015 compel member states such as Zimbabwe to comply with their respective obligations to end impunity and further calls on them to investigate and prosecute those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other egregious crimes perpetrated against civilians, including youths. 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”.
On the occasion of the International Day of Peace, Heal Zimbabwe implores the state to promote national unity and peace in line with Section 10 of the constitution. This is achieved through fostering and respecting fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens such as the right to petition and demonstrate as provide for in Section 59 of the Constitution. Added to this, the NPRC must without delay move in to tackle contentious reconciliation issues such as Gukurahundi and 2008 political violence and other issues 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”