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Africa Day, ZLHR challenges govt to seriously reflect on and advance
AU common values
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
joins the rest of Africa on 25 May 2013 in celebrating Africa Day,
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) calls for reflection by
Government (IG) on its collective responsibility to further
the objectives of the African Union (AU).
fathers of the continent were motivated by the values of unity,
promotion of common values of peace, security, stability and prosperity
for Africans to create the Organisation of African Unity now known
as the African Union 50 years ago. As we celebrate Africa Day, these
values must be reaffirmed.
regrettably notes failure by the IG to uphold these common values.
Good governance principles remain alien to most Zimbabweans who
have to grapple with state sponsored repression which continues
to erode people’s freedoms and deepening poverty on a daily
basis. Tangible measures still have to be taken to promote and protect
human rights including those of vulnerable and disadvantaged citizens
and groups such as women, children and those living with disabilities.
With the inevitable
occurrence of elections in Zimbabwe later this year and their link
to, and impact on regional and continental peace, security and economic
development, ZLHR notes with sadness the continued failure by the
IG to adopt and implement concrete measures to promote democratic
principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance
in accordance with the minimum standards set within the AU framework.
It is worrying
that the IG continues to procrastinate in implementing recommendations
of the AU organs such as the African Commission on Human and Peoples’
Rights which recently delivered a landmark ruling directing the
Harare administration to allow its citizens in the diaspora to vote
in the March constitutional referendum and forthcoming national
There also continues
to be a deafening silence and no significant progress towards accepting
through ratification and domestication of one of the key instruments
that will advance democracy, peace and security in Zimbabwe, the
region, and the continent as a whole, the African Charter on Democracy,
Elections and Good Governance (The African Charter on Democracy)
that came into force on 15 February 2012.
Charter on Democracy seeks to promote adherence by African states
to the universal values and principles of democracy and respect
for human rights premised upon the supremacy of the constitution
and the respect for the rule of law. The African Charter on Democracy
seeks to usher in a new era on our continent that establishes a
link between free and fair elections, good governance and the enjoyment
of human rights by the citizens. The African Charter on Democracy
further proclaims a new dawn of democracy rooted in the rule of
law and gives further impetus to Africa’s commitment to the
principles of transparency and accountability in government. It
reaffirms the primacy of the rule of law and calls on state parties
to initiate appropriate measures, including legislative, executive
and administrative actions to bring State Parties’ national
laws and regulations into conformity with the African Charter on
The IG has after
fifteen months of the effective date of this instrument neither
signed nor ratified this landmark instrument.
ZLHR calls for
commemoration of the 2013 Africa Day in Zimbabwe with a purpose.
The importance of common values leading to recognition of this day
is greatly undermined and of no effect to the lives of ordinary
citizens if the IG continues to fail to contribute positively and
proactively to further peace and security. Common values enjoin
the IG to acknowledge instruments such as the African Charter on
Democracy and respect and abide by recommendations of institutions
such as the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
that have been set up to advance these common African values. Inaction
by the IG to promote the common values, remains unacceptable and
a dereliction of duty to facilitate peace and security in the country
and broadly on the continent.
joins other countries in celebrating the birth of a united African
Continent focused on the promotion of common values of dignity,
peace, stability and prosperity for its people, ZLHR calls upon
the government of Zimbabwe to:
- Ratify the
African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Good Governance to
show its commitment towards the values encapsulated in the Charter
the African Charter on Democracy framework through initiation
of appropriate measures - including legislative, executive and
administrative actions - to bring the national laws and regulations
into conformity with the African Charter on Democracy
- Take measures
to implement recommendations of the African Commission on Human
and Peoples’ Rights to facilitate the diaspora vote
the primacy of principles of good governance, democracy and the
rule of law in society in conformity with the African Charter
- ZLHR further
calls upon the government to respect and adhere to the provisions
of the SADC Guidelines on Elections as the
country prepares to hold elections which the rest of the world
is watching and to accept the outcome of the polls held under
a free and fair environment.
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