By Pauline Hurungudo
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has condemned security forces’ brutality saying heavy-handedness on protesters does not fix the economy.
This comes after Zimbabwe witnessed one of its first ever deadly anti-government protests against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration, which has allegedly claimed more than 12 lives after security forces launched a crackdown on protesters and looters.
Meanwhile, government using the Interception Communications Act compelled Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to shutdown the Internet last Monday, following a directive to black out all social media platforms, in a bid to thwart organised protests in the country.
At the same time, security forces have clamped down on pro-democracy activists, senior opposition officials and others who are reported to have instigated the violence that took place during the national shutdown that was called by Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) last week.
In a statement in response to the recent uproar in the country, ZHRC said government needs to take due care and diligence to protect the rights and well-being of especially the vulnerable members of society.
“The ZHRC fully understands the dire macro-economic situation in the country and the need to make radical decisions to remedy the situation…
“As the Commission we are of the view that such heavy-handedness on the part of the security sector does not solve the national problems, but only helps to create resentment and anger among the citizens which in turn breeds the violence that we are currently experiencing,” ZHRC said.
Many Zimbabweans, in anger also took the woes to Mnangagwa’s Twitter account where they castigated the actions by his government while others lodged petitions to the international community to bar him from the World Economic Forum (Wef) in Davos, Switzerland.
While the riots are said to have been triggered by the pronouncements made by Mnangagwa on fuel hikes, ZHRC said: “.. most of the austerity measures and decisions are being made with little or no consultations of the relevant stakeholders and citizens and in many instances sound and appear as almost arbitrary.
“As a result there is no buy in or support for these new policies leading to implementation challenges with some key players and citizens resisting the changes.
Related to this, there are no structured policy review mechanisms in place to assess and understand both intended and unintended impact of government decisions and policies on citizens and the economy.
“All policies, no matter how well meant, can have a negative impact that disproportionately affects the disadvantaged members of society.”
Mnangagwa has a hard task to revive the haemorrhaging economy and pressure continues to mount on his government which is running under credibility deficit by failing to appease angry masses with inadequate economic policies.
The country’s economy has been in the throes of shortages of cash and basic commodities and price vexations due to currency distortions causing many businesses to demand the greenback and peg all commodities in t US dollar.
The fuel crisis and steep transport fares have continued to batter the commuting public.
Meanwhile calls for a national dialogue to rescue the country’s dire situation have been bombarding Mnangagwa’s office.
International organisations such as European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) also condemned violence by security forces while calling for an inclusive national dialogue “to ensure reforms that stand the test of time” creating an environment where investors can start trickling in. DailyNews