As we commemorate International Human Rights Day

HARARE - Today Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Human Rights Day, an important day on our calendar.

On this particular day, Zimbabweans from all walks of life would be voicing their concerns as they battle on all ends, be it from the economic, social or political front.

According to the United Nations, the International Human Rights Day presents an opportunity, every year, to celebrate human rights, highlight a specific issue, and advocate for the full enjoyment of all human rights by everyone everywhere.

This year the day comes as Zimbabweans are preparing for watershed elections set for 2013.

As we prepare for these crucial polls, politicians are being reminded that everyone has a right to a vote of his or her choice. Zimbabweans are entitled to choose a leader of their choice without being intimidated.

Past elections held in Zimbabwe have witnessed the trampling of all forms of basic human rights. Murder, rape and arson become common crimes every time an election is held.

The 2013 elections will, therefore, put to test President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s resolve to respect human life by restraining their supporters during campaigns.

The focus for this year’s celebrations would be on women, youth, minorities, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, the poor and the marginalised.

In past episodes where there is strife and violence, these groups suffer the brunt of human rights abuses. It is time that we respect the life of minority groups and their right to protection, food, clothing, shelter and water.

As we commemorate International Human Rights Day it is important to remember millions in Zimbabwe who are at the mercy of poverty and disease.

With another drought looming, drought relief organisations indicate millions of Zimbabweans in most dry areas urgently need food.

Access to medicines, and in particular ARVs, should be a right for every Zimbabwean, rich or poor.

Access to clean water remains a pipedream for many communities in Zimbabwe, with homes in urban centres going for months without running water.

As we commemorate International Human Rights Day, it is also important to take stock of the media landscape.

Media space is still muzzled and we still have harsh media and security laws aimed at stifling people’s freedom.

It is time to turn the corner. - Staff Writer

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