On Africa day, take concrete measures to further objectives of the African Union

On 25 May 2012, Zimbabwe joined the rest of Africa in celebrating Africa Day. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) calls for reflection by the Inclusive Government (IG) on its collective responsibility to further the objectives of the African Union (AU).

Unity, promotion of common values of peace, security, stability and prosperity for Africans motivated the founding fathers of the continent to create the Organisation of African Unity more than 49 years ago. Today, as we celebrate Africa day, these values must be reaffirmed.

With the inevitable occurrence of elections in the near future, and their link to, and impact on regional and continental peace, security and economic development, ZLHR notes with sadness the continued failure by the government to adopt and implement concrete measures to promote democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance in accordance with the minimum standards set within the AU framework.

There continues to be a deafening silence and no significant progress towards recognising one of the key instruments that will advance peace and security in Zimbabwe, the region, and continentally. This is the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Good Governance (The African Charter on Democracy) that came into force on 15 February 2012.

The African Charter on Democracy seeks to promote adherence by each State Party to the universal values and principles of democracy and respect for human rights premised upon the supremacy of the constitution and the respect for the rule of law. The African Charter on Democracy seeks to usher in a new era on our continent that establishes a link between free and fair elections, good governance and the enjoyment of human rights by the citizens.

The African Charter on Democracy proclaims a new dawn of democracy rooted in the rule of law and gives further impetus to Africa's commitment to the principles of transparency and accountability in government. It reaffirms the primacy of the rule of law and calls on state parties to initiate appropriate measures, including legislative, executive and administrative actions to bring State Parties’ national laws and regulations into conformity with the African Charter on Democracy.

The IG has so far, failed to acknowledge the existence of this instrument and to date the country has neither signed nor ratified this landmark instrument.

ZLHR calls for commemoration of the 2012 Africa Day in Zimbabwe with a purpose. The importance of common values leading to recognition of this day is greatly undermined and of no effect to the lives of ordinary citizens if the IG continues to fail to contribute positively and proactively to further peace and security.

Inaction on the part of the IG to promote the African Charter on Democracy and other regional human rights instruments remains unacceptable and a dereliction of duty to facilitate peace and security in the country and broadly on the continent.

As Zimbabwe joins other countries in celebrating the birth of a united African Continent focused on the promotion of common values of dignity, peace, stability and prosperity for its people, ZLHR calls upon the government of Zimbabwe to:

 Ratify the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Good Governance to show its commitment towards the values encapsulated in the Charter

 Domesticate the African Charter on Democracy framework through initiation of appropriate measures – including legislative, executive and administrative actions – to bring the national laws and regulations into conformity with the African Charter on Democracy

 Reaffirm the primacy of principles of good governance, democracy and the rule of law in society in conformity with the African Charter on Democracy

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