NANGO engages independent commissions

The National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO) has met commissioners from the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) at a time when preparations for the 30 July harmonised elections reach their peak. NANGO is mandated by its membership to coordinate the activities of NGOs, represent the NGO sector and strengthen the voice of NGOs in Zimbabwe.

The election environment continues to be highly polarised, intra and inter party political violence persist, there is an increase of human rights abuses, marginalisation and exclusion of women, youths and other vulnerable groups, lawlessness, disrespect for the sanctity of life, use of abrasive language, festering of conflict among different groups within society, unequal distribution of resources.

These critical issues, if unattended at this stage, will delegitimise everything being done by the civil society, non-state actors, government and commissions in ensuring that citizens freely support political parties and candidates of their choice without fear of harassment, threat or intimidation.

Through its ten sectors NANGO collated concerns and demands that were presented to the commissions. NANGO demands from all independent commissions a public strategy that ensures peace, tolerance, safety, security, upholding of human rights, and respect for the sanctity of life. NANGO recommends putting in place conflict indicators and early response mechanisms that ensure protection of the general citizenry ahead of the elections.

The commissions have a duty to defend the Zimbabwean Constitution and a mandate towards protection and promotion of human rights. NANGO implores the ZHRC to be proactive, and thoroughly investigate human rights violations, and recommend effect measures to promote human rights and freedom. To initiate a vigorous campaign to reach out to society, through CSOs, political parties, the police and other key stakeholders in human rights work.

The hostile political environment has directly and indirectly led to the disenfranchisement of women, youths and other vulnerable groups. This is further compounded by the legislative framework that objectifies these groups. Ultimately, women’s and youths’ participation in political party spaces or as the electorate is heavily compromised. In light of this, NANGO urges the NPRC to timeously intervene, and begin to exercise its independence in its operations, thus giving public confidence in the law and the commission.

All commissions are urged to promote and enforce good practices and ethics among political parties, monitor hate and abusive speech in the public interest to ensure fairness and diversity of views that represent the Zimbabwean society. NANGO also implores all commissions to speak out against exclusion and repression in order to uphold, promote and develop freedom of association and speech.

Following past injustices that have not been resolved which continue to hound and affect the citizenry in their daily interactions NANGO intreats the NPRC together with other independent commission to prioritise creating a sustainable people driven infrastructure for peace building.

A need has also been identified for independent commissions to put in place mechanisms and systems that enforce political tolerance at all levels of electoral process. This should be enforced within the existing legal frameworks and electoral guidelines espoused in the Electoral Act of Zimbabwe, the Constitution, regional and international best practices.

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