'Funding shortfall stymies ZHRC'

BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) commissioners have said they are increasingly getting frustrated as the government fails to avail resources for their operations as well as their welfare.

ZHRC commissioner Ndebeni Ncube told the Daily News yesterday that there was an urgent need for government to urgently look into their welfare if they were to effectively serve their purpose.

“The question of resources is frustrating us,” Ncube said.

“More so, in the sense that we have lost quite a number of officers; when we recruited, there was really a concern about expertise but now due to frustration, poor salaries, late payment they have left.”

The former Bulawayo mayor said to date, they have lost about 15 members as a result, since January last year.

“In total they are supposed to be 55 including the support staff and we are now left with 18 human rights officers. Imagine one of our top employees, an executive secretary left and is now a High Court judge,” Ncube said.

Due to this incapacitation, executing their mandated duties has not been a stroll in the park, he said.

ZHRC chairperson Elasto Mugwadi admitted that the situation was getting tough.

“The only visible constraint is that of resources, we don’t have sufficient resources. The issue of salaries coming to the commission haphazardly is quite a challenge, there is no consistency,” Mugwadi said.

Adding that the lack of resources has seen them failing to reach out to the most affected parts of the country.

“We need to go down to the people, bring their awareness to their entitlement to their rights and even the prospective violators so that they know that if they do ABC, they will be violating their constitution, which is wrong.”

Mugwadi said there was need for the commission to decentralise so that their services can be easily accessible in all parts of the country.

It is also charged with the responsibility to monitor and observe human rights as well as receiving and considering complaints from the public on human rights abuses and has the power to investigate allegations of human rights abuses and recommend measures to Parliament as well as direct the commissioner general of police to cause arrests where evidence would have shown that human rights abuses were committed.

In January this year, the commission reported that it had dealt with more than 400 cases since they became operational in 2014.

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