Back to Index
Zimbabwe human rights commission chief resigns
Guma, Nehanda Radio
December 29, 2012
The head of
the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) Professor Reginald Austin
reportedly resigned on Friday citing the fact that the commission
was not "independent and properly capacitated" to do
its work in a credible manner.
lawyer in Zimbabwe, Austin was the Dean of the Law Faculty at the
Zimbabwe from 1982-1992 and also served as a commissioner in
the Delimitation Commission of Zimbabwe from 1984-1992 before he
was appointed in 2009 to lead the ZHRC.
Austin is quoted
saying "The critical reason for my resignation is the legal
framework, in particular Section 12 of the ZHRC
Act, and Part XVIIIB of the Electoral
Act, within which the ZHRC is expected, now and in the future,
to carry out its mandate to 'promote and protect human rights'
National Human Rights Institution, the Commission must be independent
and properly capacitated to comply with the international standards
set by the Paris Principles
for its credibility and recognition to participate as a peer in
the international human rights community," Austin said.
He said Constitutional
Amendment 19, which created the Commission, "failed to
provide for its independence" and the government had virtually
left them in limbo with "no budget, no accommodation, no mobility,
no staff and no implementing act or corporate legal status."
the resignation Deputy Justice Minister Obert Gutu said "The
system has made sure that he (Austin) is frustrated into resigning
before the commission even starts it's real work.
Austin is an international human rights lawyer of impeccable credentials.
He was the lead legal advisor to Joshua Nkomo's ZAPU at the
Lancaster House talks in 1979. I am completely gutted by his resignation . . . ..Where
to Zimbabwe? . . . .Will it get worse before it gets better . . . ???"
accused the ZHRC of being a paper tiger created to tick reform boxes.
Although formed in 2009, the body was only given constitutional
status in 2012 and even then a clause blocking it from investigating
abuses before the violent election of June 2008 made the ZHRC as
pointless as hot ice cream.
the commission must be accountable to Parliament, with its own resources,
and not to the Minister of Justice (Patrick Chinamasa) who is a
political appointee and has himself been accused of committing gross
human rights abuses in his own constituency where he lost to an
of the ZHRC remaining are Dr Ellen Sithole, Dr Joseph Kurebwa, Jacob
Mudenda, Japhet-Ndabeni Ncube, Sheila Matindike, Elasto Mugwadi,
Ona Jirira and Norma Niseni.
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.