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rights agenda 2013
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
November 27, 2013
Lately the term
‘legitimacy through performance’ is key the benchmark
being widely used to assess the government of Zimbabwe. Having come
into power through an election, which lacked all hallmarks credibility,
the least Zimbabweans now expect, is for it to perform in order
to regain some semblance of legitimacy and reluctant acceptance.
This boils down to choices the government is making. The international
community, in particular, is closely watching the policy choices
to assess whether such choices put ordinary people at the heart
of government agenda in the next five years. Such choices will determine,
if and how they will engage the new regime.
These words were recently echoed by Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s
Deputy Director for Southern Africa who said, “There is no
doubt that the new government will be judged on the basis of its
human rights record and ability to improve the living conditions
for everyone in the country”.
The Government of Zimbabwe must guarantee all human rights enshrined
in the new Constitution,
Amnesty International said in a Human Rights Agenda issued as President
Robert Mugabe approaches the 100th day of his new term.
In the report, Human Rights Agenda for the New Government - 2013
to 2018, the organization urges the Zimbabwean government to take
significant steps to improve the country’s poor human rights
record. It also must address impunity for past violations and provide
remedies to victims. Human Rights Watch’s Report dated 4 September
2013 voiced similar sentiments.
“The new Constitution offers a golden opportunity for the
government to begin to right the wrongs of the past, to deliver
justice for its people and to allow freedom of expression. With
political will all that is possible.”
“We want to see the new government sending a clear signal
that it is committed to breaking away from a past where human rights
were blatantly violated.”
Amnesty International called on the government to immediately repeal
or amend all laws that are not aligned with the new Constitution.
Laws such as the Public
Order and Security Act and the Criminal
(Codification and Reform) Act were used in the past to deny
people their rights to freedom expression, association and peaceful
The new Constitution, drafted during the period of a coalition government
and enacted in May this year, provides for a wide range of human
rights under the Declaration of Rights (Chapter 4). The human rights
in Chapter 4 include economic, social, cultural, civil and political
rights that are enforceable by law.
is concerned about the new government’s continued harassment
and intimidation of human rights defenders particularly NGO leaders
being prosecuted for undertaking their legitimate work, which is
guaranteed under international law.
to freedom of expression and association of all those working to
promote or protect human rights must be respected. The government
must immediately and unconditionally drop the charges against anyone
arrested for exercising their internationally guaranteed rights,”
said Noel Kututwa.
The report also calls for an official moratorium on forced evictions.
It urges a review of Operation Garikai, a government programme designed
to re-house some of the 700,000 people made homeless by mass forced
evictions in 2005 (known as Operation
Murambatsvina), with the aim of providing effective remedies
to the victims.
Earlier this month, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works
and National Housing Dr Ignatius Chombo, reportedly ordered the
of “illegal structures” in the country as part of what
was termed a “clean up.” Scores of small businesses
and houses were torn down in Ruwa and Epworth townships near Harare.
Government has also threatened to carryout evictions in Seke rural
area and in Chitungwiza town, south of Harare.
“Forced eviction is unconstitutional in Zimbabwe. Section
74 of the Constitution recognizes the right to ‘freedom from
arbitrary eviction.’ Under international law people facing
eviction are entitled to adequate notice, they should be genuinely
consulted, be given viable alternative housing and are entitled
to compensation,” said Noel Kututwa.
The Human Rights Agenda also calls for an immediate official moratorium
on executions, with a view to abolishing the death penalty for all
crimes and commuting all death sentences.
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