Mnangagwa drags heels on tabling rights reports

HARARE - Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has shunned tabling Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC)’s annual reports before Parliament for four successive years, the Daily News has learnt.

The commission’s deputy chairperson, Ellen Sithole, said the quasi-government institution has since 2010 submitted three human rights reports to Mnangagwa, in his capacity as Justice minister, but none of them has been presented to Parliament in line with the dictates of the law.

“We did a combined 2010 to 2012 report, 2013 report and 2014 report; our reports are coming late because of resource constraints,” she said.

“The 2015 (report) has just been completed. We have not yet presented it to the minister but those three were all presented . . . but the minister did not table them before Parliament,” Sithole said, adding that Mnangagwa “is the one who is responsible for tabling it before Parliament”.

“It’s totally in his discretion. We did not know why he did not table them before Parliament. Our job is to submit to the minister.”

Efforts to obtain comment from Mnangagwa and Justice ministry secretary Virginia Mabhiza were fruitless.

Sithole said the new Constitution adopted in 2013 required them to present the annual reports through the responsible minister.

“Very soon we are going to present the 2015 report to the minister,” she said.

This comes as Zimbabwe is back on the international spotlight due to escalating human rights violations as police brutally attacked and arrested protesters who took to the streets in recent months in protest over President Robert Mugabe’s failed 36-year leadership.

Apart from police repression, Mugabe’s government, together with local authorities, continue to forcibly evict thousands of people without following due process or providing proper housing alternatives.

Recently, Mnangagwa played down Zimbabwe’s human rights crisis in his report presented at the Universal Periodic Review of human rights in Geneva, Switzerland.

Mnangagwa painted a rosy picture of the county’s human rights situation, even claiming that security agents were working with the family and lawyers of abducted and missing anti-President Robert Mugabe activist Itai Dzamara to locate him.

He said Zimbabwe had taken huge strides in implementing the recommendations but blamed sanctions and drought for failure to implement all the recommendations.

Mnangagwa further claimed that government was feeding children living on the streets, supporting free education, promoting freedom of expression and assembly, providing free health care in rural communities, among other issues.

However, his report was slammed by Zimbabwean human rights activists, including Itai’s brother  — Patson.

“He (Mnangagwa) is lying. All those are blatant lies, period! Mnangagwa is a liar,” Patson said.

“Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has failed to come up with a single lead and that has cemented our position of disbelief in their motives. The few times they have presented reports, they were whitewashed and mere nonsense,” he said.

Mnangagwa’s report came after New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) released horrific details of rights defenders and pro-democracy activists being tortured by police and intelligence operatives during recent anti-government protests.

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