Back to Index
This article participates on the following special index pages:
Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
on the human rights situation in Zimbabwe made to the African Commission
on Human Rights at the 54th Ordinary Session of the African Commission
on Human & Peoples’ Rights
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
October 24, 2013
Commissioners, the Secretary of the African Commission on Human
and Peoples’ Rights; heads of Government delegations, civil
society representatives, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) on behalf of other civil society
organizations in Zimbabwe applauds the Government of Zimbabwe for
enacting the new Constitution,
which though not a panacea for all the ills bedeviling the country,
still remains a great stride in the right direction away from the
narrow provisions of the Lancaster
House Constitution. The new constitution introduced several
positive improvements such as a more elaborate bill of rights with
justiciable socio-economic and cultural rights, five independent
commissions such as the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, a media
commission, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission and
a gender commission.
still remains to be seen how the comprehensive bill of rights will
translate to positive human rights improvements in the reality.
There is still a lot to be done by the Government of Zimbabwe to
align the laws to the letter and spirit of the new constitution
and to make the independent commissions particularly the Human Rights
Commission fully operational. In terms of socio-economic and cultural
rights, service delivery in most sectors such as health, education,
water, power and sanitation still remains below standard. Honorable
Chairperson, the majority of Zimbabweans have to endure shortages
of clean and safe water, erratic power supply and limited access
to basic health care. The failure by the government to provide basic
services recently resulted in about 31000 residents of Radcliff,
Kwekwe, Midlands province being infected by tapeworms.
the finalization of the constitution making process brought to an
end the political stagnation in the country and culminated in holding
harmonized elections, on 31 July 2013, in line with the Global
Political Agreement. Although the harmonized elections were held
against a backdrop of several contestations regarding the announcement
of the date by the president; the limitations in the period between
proclamation of the date and the actual date of election, for any
meaningful preparations to be done; and absence of key reforms in
terms of the new Constitution, the elections were conducted in a
relatively calm and peaceful environment compared to the 2008 election.
despite the relatively peaceful environment during the elections,
the credibility of the harmonized elections was contested. Mainly
because of the lack of integrity of the voters roll. The Zimbabwe
Election Commission (ZEC) and the Registrar’s General’s
office failed to avail the electronic copy of the voters roll, as
provided for by section 21 of the Electoral
Act. Honourable Chairperson, it is sad that until today ZEC
has not yet availed the electronic copy. The registration of new
voters only compounded the already shambolic state of the voters’
roll, which was fraught with duplications, omissions and still remains
in dire need of clean up.
the elections were compromised by such disturbing electoral anomalies
as the high number of voters turned away, high number of assisted
voters, bussing in of people from outside constituencies particularly
to urban polling stations and voter intimidation mostly in rural
areas which was spearheaded by the traditional leadership. The Forum
using statistics from its member and partner organizations recorded
a total of 732 cases of harassment and intimidation during the election
The post election
period marked the onslaught of retributive attacks mainly by Zanu-PF
supporters targeted mostly at MDC-T supporters who had served as
election agents or contested as opposition candidates during the
elections. Reports of such violence were recorded in Muzarabani,
Shamva and Mbare where victims were forced to flee their homes.
The Forum, interviewed 17 victims of retributive violence from Westgate
in Harare and Uzumba in Mashonaland East. This disturbing trend
was however, reported from other parts of the country and most of
these retributive attacks resulted in the internal displacement
of people. Cases of this nature were brought to the attention of
the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) but due to the fact
that the ZHRC has not been fully operationalized very little was
done to address the issue. Consequently, instead of decreasing,
such cases seem to be on the increase, with reports of such politically
motivated retributive attacks received from KHB Farm in Chegutu
on the 1st of October 2013, where several people were assaulted,
property was destroyed and families were forcefully evicted from
their home for supporting the opposition.
it is also sad to note that land invasions that started in 2000
seem to have resumed following Zanu-PF’s overwhelming victory.
For instance, on 14 September, suspected Zanu-PF supporters and
war veterans invaded Shamrock farm in Beatrice belonging to an MDC
official Silent Dube and abducted him before dumping him at a nearby
army barrack. We fear that the lawlessness associated with the first
wave of the land invasions may revisit the country, particularly
considering that party supporters were promised land and stands
during the election campaigns. Honourable Chairperson, the land
reform exercise must be concluded to avoid continued disruption
of agricultural productivity.
the persecution through prosecution of Human Rights Defenders in
Zimbabwe continues to be of grave concern as it reflects the perpetuation
of the states’ hostility towards civil society. For instance
the case of a prominent human rights defender, Beatrice Mtetwa,
who was arrested in March for allegedly obstructing the course of
justice is still before the courts of law. Abel Chikomo the Executive
Director of the Forum on the 1st of July was summoned to stand trial
on charges that arose in February 2011 for allegedly operating and
managing an unregistered organisation. The trial is still to commence
as the state keeps postponing it.
with this in mind we are very concerned with the continuing shrinkage
of the democratic space in the country. Peaceful protests have been
intercepted by the police resulting in assaults and arrests. Notably
on 19 September, police intercepted
a march by members of WOZA
as they marched to parliament to present their petition calling
for improved service delivery in all of the country’s local
authorities and demanding an enabling operating environment for
civic society organisations. Jenni Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu
and Taurai Nyamanhindi and a freelance journalist Tawanda Karombo,
were arrested, detained for close to three hours and released without
any charges. On 7 October riot police violently broke up a protest
march by disgruntled wives of employees of Hwange Colliery Company
in Matabeleland North over unpaid salaries for over five months.
Two women were seriously injured and admitted in hospital.
the government enacted Statutory
Instrument 142/2013 of the Postal and Telecommunications (Subscriber
Registration) Regulations, which allows state security agencies
to access people’s telephone call records, text messages and
Internet communication,” Honourable Chairperson, these regulations
are too broad and in the absence of clear safeguards and operational
parameters, the legislation can be utilized as a tool to infringe
into the privacy of citizens. It indeed poses a serious threat to
the constitutional freedoms of expression and privacy.
Forum on behalf of civil society organisations in Zimbabwe, acknowledging
the invaluable role that the Commission has played and still continues
to play in ensuring that Zimbabwe adheres to the principles of good
governance, and the respect of human rights, urges the Commission
to ensure that the government of Zimbabwe addresses the issues raised
herein. In particular, the urgent need to align national laws to
the provisions of the new constitution, operationalise the independent
commissions especially the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission as a
matter of urgency, improve service delivery in all sectors, reign
in on the errant land grabbing and unlawful farm evictions, stop
the retributive attacks on opposition party supporters and the harassment
of civil society.
feel that, these positive concrete steps have to be taken by the
government of Zimbabwe so that a society that respects, protects
and promote human rights is cultivated in Zimbabwe.
Visit the Zimbabwe
Human Rights NGO Forum fact
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.