Mudenda to head rights commission

HARARE - EX-Zanu PF politburo member and leading lawyer Jacob Mudenda has been appointed to head the new Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission replacing Reginald Austin who resigned in protest late last year over poor funding and political meddling.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai announced the appointment at a late news conference held at Charter House yesterday. He said all Principals in the inclusive government agreed that Mudenda replaces Austin.

“We checked whether he is still in the Zanu PF politburo or not, he is not there,” Tsvangirai said.

“In fact it is not about his past because everybody has a past, it is about qualifications. He is a lawyer and professional, more so, he is a member of the commission already.”

Austin, a renowned human rights campaigner, left the post citing the commission’s lack of independence as well as unwillingness by government to adequately fund their operations.

Flanked by his deputy, Arthur Mutambara, Tsvangirai said together with President Robert Mugabe, they also agreed to include Rukudzo Murapa, a professor at Africa University, as one of the rights commissioners.

The Principals also agreed on the replacement of Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson, following the resignation of Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe on medical grounds.

“We have agreed on a name but I am not at liberty to disclose because we have not yet informed the person, he is a serving judge,” said Tsvangirai.

The leaders also talked about media and security sector reforms which the premier said will have to be done before the elections.

Tsvangirai said the government needs $ 100 million immediately for holding of a referendum and voter registration exercise.

The funds, according to the premier, will be sourced locally and government is targeting mining firms, mobile telecommunications operators and banks for borrowing. - Xolisani Ncube and Mugove Tafirenyika

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