|Communities in Zaka and Gutu have highlighted that Security sector reform is essential for the enjoyment of human rights in local communities. This came out during a Human Rights Training organised by Heal Zimbabwe and its partners in Zaka and Gutu from 21-22 May 2021. |
The training was attended by 40 participants including Councilors, Traditional leaders (mostly village heads) and other Duty Bearers. The objectives of the training were to conscientize communities on human rights protection mechanism such as the Bill of Rights and also how communities can make referral of cases of human rights violations to Independent Commissions such as the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC).Participants highlighted that enjoyment of human rights in local communities remained a pipe dream since institutions such as the police that is suppose to enforce the law without fear or favour turns a blind eye to incidences of violence.”During the 2008 political violence police stations were no go areas. In many incidences, victims of political violence were arrested when they made reports of violence. To this day, we have people within their communities who were either tortured or had relatives killed who did not make reports to the police because they were afraid of being arrested”, said one participant. The training concluded that without Security sector reform human rights violations were going to continue unabated.
Participants also highlighted that in Zaka and Gutu there were gross human rights violations as people are being forced to attend ZANU PF District Coordinating Committee meetings and threatened with denial of food aid if they fail to attend. More worrying was the report that Traditional leaders (mostly Village heads) are being forced to establish structures for the ruling party yet Section 281 (2)(a) highlights that Traditional leaders must not be members of any political party or in any way participate in partisan politics.”Our work as Village heads is very difficult at the moment, we have several Village heads from our area who have been summoned by authorities for failing to comply with the directive of using the Village database to establish political structures” said one Traditional leader from Gutu. Other issues that came out during the trainings include the inaccessibility of Independent Commissions such as the NPRC and ZHRC which have failed to decentralise their operations to districts and wards. This makes it difficult for communities to report cases of human rights violations.
Human Rights training is one among initiatives by Heal Zimbabwe to empower local communities to help safeguard against human rights abuse and also help build peaceful communities. Heal Zimbabwe utilizes various strategies to address conflicts in local communities. One of these ways is the use of community dialogues, an initiative for communities to discuss and collectively identify ways through which they can proffer solutions to problems in their communities. The platforms also equip communities with relevant information on Covid 19, Gender Based Violence (GBV) and human rights. Such platforms also facilitate local level conversations on pertinent issues affecting communities as well as create socially cohesive communities.