Zimbabwe human rights update: 11 Feb
This issue draws research evidence from our members, partners and international stakeholders. It covers on-going concerns on the partisan nature of Zimbabwe’s security sector, progress on constitution making, deteriorating educational standards, tentative judicial victories by human right defenders and international interventions on the worrying human rights environment for human rights defenders.
Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) raises concerns about the comments made by the Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who dismisses the civil society demands for security sector reform as unpatriotic and a quest to satisfy western agenda for regime change and exploitation of Zimbabwe’s natural resources.
Whilst calling for the army to be non-partisan, ZimRights castigates the Minister’s speech which echoes previous utterances of a similar nature by senior army personnel (ZimRights, 06.06.2013).
In a related story, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) chairman Godwills Masimirembwa has defended the army’s involvement in diamond mining activities in Chiadzwa, saying security forces were entitled to be involved in all the country’s economic activities.
The House of Assembly passed the motion adopting the COPAC Report on the constitution-making process and noting the draft constitution. This came at the end of a sitting lasting more than four hours during which the motion was supported by speakers from all parties and there were no dissenting voices.
The Senate adjourned before completing its separate debate on an identical motion and approved the motion later that afternoon. The passage cleared the way for COPAC to embark on its planned publicity drive to acquaint the country with the contents of the draft constitution ahead of the Referendum (Veritas, 07.02.2013).
The Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) shared its deep concern over the poor performance of 2012’s ‘O’ level candidates.
Among a raft of demands, Zinasu urged the government to allocate more funds to the education sector, an end to political violence which in the view of the Union is one of the reasons many qualified and experienced teachers flocked out of the country for greener pastures much to the detriment of the education sector. Lastly the Union demands peaceful elections to avoid disturbance of the learning of pupils.
International concerns: 07.02.2013:
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) condemned the arrests of Human Rights Association workers Okay Machisa, Dorcas Shereni and Leo Chamahwinya in their Zimbabwe offices in December 2012, shortly after they denounced the growing police brutality across Zimbabwe and called for action by the competent authorities.
MEPs call on the Zimbabwean authorities to release anyone detained for defending human rights and to end their judicial harassment. MEPs also deplored the lack of a human rights clause in the EU’s recently-concluded interim Economic Partnership agreement with four African States, including Zimbabwe, and ask the EU to include such clauses in future economic partnership negotiations with the country.
The statement can be accessed on the European parliament website. This follows a similar statement by the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights. These international perspectives resonate with Zimbabwe civil society’s statement urging democratic governments to speak out against repression of civil society in Zimbabwe.
Human Rights Defenders: 08.02.2013:
High Court Judge, Justice Mwayera finally granted ZIMRIGHTS’ Highfields Local Chapter chairperson Dorcas Shereni bail. In a judgment delivered on Friday, February 8, in Harare, the Judge stated that Shereni is to maintain her current residence and report to the police Law and Order Section once every week as part of the bail conditions.
Meanwhile two other cases involving ZIMRIGHTS were postponed. Also on 08.02.2013, Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) leaders, President Pride Mkono and Secretary General Tryvine Musokeri, who both spent weeks at Hwahwa prison over a student demonstration at the Midlands State University (MSU) in 2011, were acquitted by Gweru Magistrate Msipa on Friday, February 8, 2013. Magistrate Msipa dismissed the case on merit.
Enforced dissapearance: 11.02.2013:
The Solidarity Peace Trust issued a statement marking exactly one year since the disappearance of Mr Paul Chizuze, fellow human rights activist and stalwart campaigner for peace and justice in Zimbabwe.
In part, the statement read, ‘We remember with gratitude the values you stood for, the decades you committed to the pursuit of democracy, peace and justice in your country. We are still looking for you, alive or dead. We continue to search for the truth about the events that led to your disappearance’.
The Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) provides an Election Watch covering different media perspectives on the current presenting issues during the month of January 2013, as the country prepares for elections. The Report which covers agreement on the constitution, disagreements on voters’ registration, intra-party divisions and politically motivated violence will soon be posted on MMPZ’s website or can be sent upon request.
Our analysis will follow in the next issue suffice it that all stakeholders need to keep a watching brief on the undulating terrain regarding human rights defenders and the utterances by security chiefs.
Issued by Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum