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Election Resource Center celebrates International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2013
Election Resource Centre
December 10, 2013

The Election Resource Centre (ERC) joins the rest of the world in celebrating the International Human Rights Day. This year marks the 65th anniversary since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is of significance as it marks the end of the “16 days of Activism against Gender Based Violence” and the celebration of the life of former South African President, Nelson Mandela. Furthermore, this year’s commemorations are the first since Zimbabwe held its harmonized elections after the expiry of the 2008-coalition government.

The theme for Human Rights Day 2013 is "20 Years: Working For Your Rights". Consistent to this year’s theme, the ERC underpins the role of the rights holders in claiming, observing and upholding of human rights as catalytic to inculcating a culture of human rights in a country.

Zimbabwe has recently undergone the first stage under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), where participating member states review the country’s human rights records to assess performance and make recommendations. This process provides a useful platform for the Government of Zimbabwe, Civil Society and the United Nations to make valuable contribution through information sharing and dissemination.

As we celebrate the International Human Rights Day, we remain cognisant of human rights violations sponsored by state dating back to the liberation struggle, the Gukurahundi era, Operation Murambatsvina, the 2002 and most recently the 2008 election violence. The state was further fingered in periodic violence against Human Rights Defenders with the epitome witnessed in 2007 on the attack on the Save Zimbabwe Campaign activists.

The ERC notes the continued challenges faced by Human Rights Defenders in conducting their work which includes, but not limited to threats of arrest, arbitrary arrests and detention.

Furthermore the ERC is concerned with the number of citizens who failed to exercise their right to vote during the July 2013 harmonized elections due to massive disenfranchisement at the behest of political players. As we mark the end of Campaign against violence on women and as much as the new constitution reserved a further 60 seats for women in the House of Assembly, the ERC notes with disbelief that only 3 women were chosen as Cabinet Ministers.

On a positive note the ERC is encouraged by the provisions in the new constitution which includes a comprehensive Bill of Rights and institutions supporting democracy inter alia the Zimbabwe Human Rights

Commission and National Peace and Reconciliation Commission which lays a strong foundation for addressing some of the human rights challenges faced in independent Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s new Constitution lays the foundation for a reform agenda which mandates the governing authority emerging out of the July 2013 to expeditiously comply with the clauses espoused therein.

In conclusion, as we celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela, who fought for transition from minority apartheid rule to black majority rule in South Africa, Zimbabwe as a nation should safeguard the right to vote. To Zimbabwe Mandela is an epicentre of the struggle against oppression, hence the fight for human rights is consistent with the fight for a democratic state which must be cherished by all Zimbabweans.

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