To this end the ZHRC has engaged the services of two consultants, Dorothy Mushayavanhu and Tarisai Mutangi who shall meet with various stakeholders in the country’s provinces and districts in an information gathering blitz.
It is a fact that the ZHRC is a creature of the Government of National Unity that expired last year just before the harmonized elections in July, and is also now part of the new constitution in terms of section 232(c). In terms of the new constitution some of the ZHRC’s functions are;
• To promote awareness of and respect for human rights and freedoms at all levels of society,
• To receive and consider complaints from the public and to take such action in regard to the complaints as it considers appropriate,
• To investigate the conduct of any authority or person, where it is alleged that any of the human rights and freedoms set out in the Declaration of Rights has been violated by that authority or person,
• To secure appropriate redress, including recommending the prosecution of offenders, human rights and freedoms have been violated,
• To direct the Commissioner-General of Police to investigate cases of suspected criminal violations of human rights or freedoms and to report to the Commission on the results of any such investigation
The SST is however concerned by the levels of government commitment to this project which should have started its work during the tenure of the GNU had it not been for the alleged deliberate neglect of the commission. Before undertaking this survey the commission must give us a report of the work that has been done to date in monitoring, reporting and promoting the observance of human rights in the country.
Zimbabwe has got a rich history of human rights abuses and to that end the commission must be very clear in terms of the period they are targeting as the country has been witnessing human rights violations since time immemorial. The terms of reference of the two consultants engaged have to be shared with members of the public well in advance of their outreach program if the survey is going to achieve meaningful and desired results.
There has to be a sustained campaign prior to this outreach program of unpacking the subject of human rights violations otherwise this will result in a false start for the whole program. Again those to be involved in the survey need not ambush the people in the districts and provinces of the country if the desired intention is to help the commission in tackling the human rights issues effectively. We are not prepared for a situation where it will be alleged later on that the people have spoken when it’s just the biased views of a few.
If we don’t soon see the objectives, terms of reference of the consultants and the schedule of areas to be visited then our conclusion will be that the exercise is meant to hoodwink thousands of Zimbabweans whose rights have been violated and whose souls need healing. We hope the survey will provide the much needed background information for the real work as enunciated in the constitution to begin. The first step must be to accept that human rights violations have been committed and not to be defensive about it.Post published in: News