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).Commemorations for this year are running under the theme, “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa we Want”
Africa Day presents an opportunity for member states to evaluate progress made towards achieving the AU’s vision. The vision is that of “An intergrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in a global arena. Sadly for some member states, the COVID 19 pandemic has threatened the prevalence of peace in most countries. The strict lockdown measures have negatively impacted populations relying on the informal sector for subsistence. In some countries, the pandemic has also seen gross human rights violations against citizens under the guise of enforcement of lockdown measures. This is besides the fact that AU subscribes to legal instruments such as the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and other relevant human rights instruments that promote and protect fundamental human rights. For Zimbabwe, the occasion of Africa Day is taking place against a background of widespread gross human rights violations specifically against Human Rights Defenders (HRDs).From January 2023, HRDs such as Makomborero Haruzivishe, Obey Sithole, Joana Mamombe, Cecelia Chimbiri, Netsai Marova and Hopewell Chin’ono among others have all been either victimized or arrested.
Zimbabwe, as a member of the African Union must 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-centred conflict prevention and resolution must be actively promoted and a culture of peace and tolerance must be cultivated in Zimbabwe.
In light of this year’s commemorations, Heal Zimbabwe implores government to create a conducive environment for citizens to enjoy fundamental human rights and freedoms that are enshrined in the constitution. Added to this, government must fully capacitate and adhere to a principle of non-interference of the Chapter 12 Independent Commissions supporting Democracy such as the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) among others. These commissions have a constitutional obligation to secure the observance of democratic values and principles by the State and all institutions and agencies of government controlled entities to ensure that justice is remedied.