Chinamasa’s rejection absurd

Patrick Chinamasa, the Justice and Legal Affairs minister’s, declaration that his government will not make any changes to the Public Order and Security Act and that there are no plans to amend the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act has been met with firece criticism by pro-democracy forces.

Patrick Chinamasa
Patrick Chinamasa

Chinamasa rejected the reforms at the just-ended United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review mechanism in Geneva, Switzerland.

Despite clear provisions in the 2008 Global Political Agreement stating that amendments were needed to level the political playing field, Chinamasa was adamant in his rejection of the recommendations put forward to Zimbabwe.

No to western proposals

Fifty-five member countries which attended the Geneva meeting put forward 179 rights recommendations for Zimbabwe, of which Chinamasa accepted 81, saying Zimbabwe was only accepting proposals from developing countries and not the West. President Robert Mugabe frequently accuses western countries such as Britain and the United States of America (USA) of attempting to re-colonise the southern African country.

Chinamasa’s reasons for the decision were that the two laws were “justified”, yet they have been the very reason many citizens of Zimbabwe, including human rights activists, have been arrested on trumped-up charges and hauled before the courts of law. Zimbabwean civic groups and rights activists are of the mind that POSA and AIPPA need to be reviewed, if not abolished altogether, along with other legislation, in particular the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act.

It is widely acknowledged that Zimbabwe’s next election, currently being touted for 2012 against the will of many Zimbabweans, will not be free and fair as security forces in the country will continue to use these laws to restrict non-Zanu (PF) political activity.

After Chinamasa’s rejection, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights Executive Director, Irene Petras, said that civic groups were outraged as free and fair elections could not be held unless laws were reformed.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Director, Mcdonald Lewanika, said that civil society organisations were disappointed with this development. He also said Chinamasa’s position showed that Zanu (PF) opposed real reforms.

Zanu hypocrisy

“That Chinamasa rejected proposals from Zambia yet accepted proposals from the non-aligned movement and other developing countries shows the hypocrisy within Zanu (PF). He also rejected a call by countries including Zambia for Harare to subscribe to the International Criminal Court in the Hague,” Lewanika is quoted as saying in the media.

This reform amendment rejection comes after accusations were laid on Chinamasa of trying to weaken the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Regional Coordinator, Dewa Mavhinga, told the media that civil society organisations were deeply concerned that Chinamasa was trying to curtail the commission’s work by “smuggling through the backdoor’ provisions that would make it toothless, adding that “what the minister is trying to do is to create a paper tiger”.

The main concern from Zimbabwean CSOs and human rights activists who have voiced outrage is that going for elections without change would lead to another disputed outcome as was the case in 2008.

Post published in: Politics

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *