Rights commissioners demand perks

HARARE - Rights commissioners have demanded remuneration packages and perks similar to those enjoyed by judges and government ministers.

Giving oral evidence yesterday before the parliamentary thematic committee on Human Rights chaired by senator Misheck Marava, Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) chairperson Jacob Mudenda said the rights body was financially crippled and is not getting enough budgetary support from treasury to enable it to carry out its duties effectively.

ZHRC is the first constitutional body set up to investigate human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. “We have not agreed on terms of service for commissioners,” Mudenda told the committee.

“The other commissioners in Africa are paid at the same level as judges and ministers, this is what we are also demanding.

“We must come to an understanding with the Justice and Legal Affairs ministry on this matter. We are not getting any money from the treasury. We submitted a budget of $6,5 million for 2012-13 and we were allocated $1, 5million."

“It is not helping us in any way, resulting in us looking for funds from well-wishers.”

Mudenda said ZHRC had two full time commissioners, himself and his deputy Ellen Sithole, but due to the overwhelming demands of work, other commissioners had decided to start work on a full time basis, hence the need to remunerate them adequately.

“If the commissioners accept what is being proposed by government, they will be disadvantaged, 50 percent financially from what they were earning from their professional work,” said Mudenda.

He said commissioners needed vehicles to carry out advocacy work, and staff pool cars for its head office and regional offices.

He also said there was need to amend the ZHRC Act to give them more independence in investigating human rights abuses as well as being solely accountable for its finances as a corporate body.

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