Heal Zimbabwe writes to welcome you, Dr, Angeline Guvamombe, Mrs. Dorothy Moyo, Mrs. Beauty Kajese, Dr Cowen Dziva and Mr Brian Penduka and express our profound congratulations on your appointment to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) as Commissioners.
Heal Zimbabwe recognizes and appreciates the diversity of your skills and demonstrated leadership from your professions. Of great importance is your acceptance of nominations and success to this important position that contributes towards national human rights protection and promotion. We view your appointment as progressive as it allows the ZHRC to resume its functions with a fully constituted board for effective policy resolutions, implementation and monitoring.
Heal Zimbabwe notes that during the period when the Commission had halted its operations due to the Commissioners’ vacancies, the state of human rights in the country had deteriorated with the recent arrest of investigative journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono and Transform Zimbabwe leader, Jacob Ngarivhume being two cases in point. While citizens were able to submit reports of human rights violations to the Commission in line with Section 243 (d) of the constitution, the unavailability of Commissioners dealt a heavy to the Commission’s constitutional obligations of promoting awareness of and respect for human rights and freedoms at all levels of the society and to protect the public against abuse of power and maladministration by State and public institutions and by officers of those institutions. Therefore, your appointment comes at a point of need to the general citizens of Zimbabwe. As you assume your Offices, we remind you of some of the key issues requiring your immediate attention, which include;
- Recommendations of the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry – the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry recommendations are not fully implemented especially in finding redress to the victims, years after the 1 August 2018 shootings. Heal Zimbabwe believes that there is need for the government to transparently comply with the recommendations of the Motlanthe Commission without delay. A delay in pursuit of justice reinforces the victims’ trauma and mistrust on the government’s commitment to non-recurrence.
- Suppression of political dissention and human rights activism-the continued crackdown on activists and the closing space for citizens to exercise their democratic rights to participate in civic and political processes is indeed a cause of concern. Citizens must be allowed to demonstrate and petition in line with section 59. Cases of gross human rights violations include the arrest and detention of Joanna Mamombe, Netsai Marova and Celia Chimbiri in June 2020. Fresh cases of similar violations include the arrest of Jacob Ngarivhume, Hopewell Chin’ono and other activists ahead of the much said 31stJuly 2020 demonstrations.
- State supported evictions -there is a rise in purported development induced evictions across the country. In Chiredzi and Chipinge for example, there are local communities under threat of being evicted by the government for private business operations. In Chiredzi Rural District in Chilonga, Gwaseche and Chibwedzivaareas covering ward 6, 7 and 8 there are communities under siege as the government is readying to evict the villagers in favour of Dendairy Zimbabwe who want to use the land to plant Lucerne grass.
- Non-compliance with the constitution–the government is yet to comply with section 210 of the constitution which calls for the establishment of the Independent Complaints mechanism which will receive and investigate complaints from members of the public about the misconduct on the part of security services and for remedying any harm caused by such misconduct. This delay has seen many complaints against members of the security services being unattended yet in the interest of human rights protection and promotion, it is essential to address constitutional rights with effectiveness.
- Machete gang violence– in the previous months, Zimbabwe experienced a spike in machete gang violence. The violence largely dominated artisanal mining towns and districts and it has progressively spread into non-mining communities. There has not been any clearly remedial action taken by the government, hence episodes of recurrences. This trend is indeed a cause for concern and must be addressed
In view of the above and other cases not mentioned, herein, we implore you as you take your oath of office to take kind consideration of the many outstanding human rights challenges facing our country and communities. Heal Zimbabwe stands ready to work with the new Commissioners and will explore areas of collaboration to ensure effective human rights protection that that the rights are fully enjoyed by citizens.