By Trevor Makonyonga
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has urged government to respect citizens human rights if it is to catch up with Africa’s peace and development agenda.
This was revealed in human rights forums Africa Day commemoration message.
The African Union (AU)’s theme for 2020 was “Silencing the guns: Creating a conducive environment for Africa’s development” which the forum said provides an opportunity to reflect on progress and challenges in attaining peace and development in Africa.
“Much has been invested by the Zimbabwean government in painting the country as being under a new dispensation, shaped by a new ethos. Evidence on the ground speak otherwise. Without respect for human rights, sound governance and a culture of constitutionalism, Zimbabwe will remain behind in Africa’s peace and development agenda, slowing down the advancement of its peoples and becoming a liability to African as a whole.
“As Zimbabwe and the continent commemorate Africa Day, the Forum takes the opportunity to remind the Government of Zimbabwe of the duty it owes to its citizens to make this day meaningful, as a celebration of our security and prosperity. The primary duty lies upon the government of the people, to deliver the Africa promised in our continental agenda, which agenda is similarly captured in our own Constitution. The Forum further calls on unity of purpose among all in Zimbabwe to ensure that we focus more on things that unite than divide us, as both Zimbabweans and Africans,” read the statement.
The forum also said that it is appalled by the continued human rights abuses being recorded even when the country is faced with the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Zimbabwean economy continues to decline against the backdrop of a bad human rights record. As the nation battles the COVID-19 pandemic, violations of fundamental human freedoms and liberties continue to be recorded. Hundreds of violations have been recorded by the Forum since the start of the COVID-19 national lockdown, including assault, arbitrary arrests, unlawful detentions and attack on journalists. The recent abductions and torture of three opposition political youth leaders which made headlines globally, drew the latest attention to Zimbabwe’s long-held record of human insecurity and vulnerability. This is a record enabled by a State that is unable to protect its citizens – and is in most times, actively involved in the violations both by commission and omission. Zimbabwe is subscribed to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and has a duty to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights of its peoples as provided in that Charter,” said the Forum.