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on the Year 2001, to mark Human Rights Day (Dec 10)
for Human Rights (ZLHR)
December 07, 2001
In all democracies
world wide, the rule of law is not only a jealously guarded concept but
also a way of life. Rule of law refers to governance according to just
laws, set and established by a duly constituted Legislature.
In a well-orchestrated
effort to quell opposition parties and dissenting views, the government
has succeeded in eroding the rule of law to the point of non-existence.
Rule of law is only guaranteed if the Judiciary and Parliament remain
independent and the Executive impartially executes and upholds the laws
of the country.
This year alone, the
Chief Justice and three other Judges resigned, under physical and political
threats. Notwithstanding his obligation to protect the Judiciary, the
Minister of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Mr P Chinamasa, was
instrumental in procuring the Chief Justice’s resignation as well as making
The Supreme Court
has been reconstituted, amidst rife speculation of a Judiciary compromised
in favour of the establishment.
ZLHR condemns the
government actions which compromise the Judiciary. An unfair and partisan
Judiciary breeds lawlessness and anarchy, as citizens resort to self-help
in order to resolve disputes.
By-elections and local
government elections held in 2001 mirrored the June 2000 Parliamentary
elections in the levels of senseless violence. More and more people have
been subjected to assaults, torture, rape, malicious injury to property,
as well as being displaced. The Presidential pardon condoned, if not encouraged,
violence and mob rule in all future elections.
To carry out its policies
the government has used persons who claim to be war veterans. Farms and
companies were invaded; persons killed, maimed, tortured and displaced.
The police have failed to take appropriate action in many instances against
"war veterans" claiming that these are "political"
Under its National
Youth Service programme, the government appears to be training more para-military
groups to brutalize a nation already under siege. Access to the public
media remains a preserve of the ruling party and hangers on. The holding
of alternative views and information is hazardous. All persons who had
different views and opinions to those of the government have been branded
laws, such as the Broadcasting Services Act, have been passed into law,
which in practical terms prevent any investment into the sector. A Public
Order and Security Bill is being introduced. This Bill is meant to replace
the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act, which, according to government media
reports, has been watered down by the Supreme court, which has struck
down the Act’s various sections on the basis that they are unconstitutional.
Notwithstanding the Supreme courts rejection of the formerly mandatory
requirement for citizens to carry National Identity documents, the government
seeks to reintroduce the law. New electoral amendments, which seek to
prevent Zimbabweans from voting, are being mooted.
It is not by chance
that there is increased violence, breakdown of law and order.
Freedom of expression
and association, i.e. the freedom to choose, is a foundation of democracy.
The activities of government violate these rights. More and more journalists
have been arrested or deported. Save for war veterans, nobody else may
demonstrate. The hallmark of dictatorship is intolerance. Seemingly in
order to achieve short-term political goals the President, a liberator
in 1980, has turned oppressor to all who show opposition.
We call upon all citizens
to call for an end of violence. There must be impartial enforcement of
the law, free and fair elections and a mandatory return to the rule of
law. Many of our fellow countrymen perished in the fight for equality,
justice, peace and integrity. These are ideals we must cherish. Political
and economic stability and prosperity depend on set principles of law
and the idea that no one man is greater than the country.
Finally, as we have
said countless times, the legal profession must also be in the forefront
of the campaign for democracy and the rule of law. Unbridled anarchy and
dictatorship renders lawyers, Judges and the legal system irrelevant.
ZLHR members will
be commemorating International Human Rights Day by holding a lunch-time
march through Harare City centre on Monday 10 December 2001.
Visit the ZLHR fact
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