2016 worst in terms of human rights abuses

HARARE - The year 2016 will go down into Zimbabwe’s history as one of the worst in terms of human rights abuses, a human rights activist has said as the country today joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Human Rights Day.

International Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on December 10 every year, the date was chosen to honour the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation, on December 10 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first global enunciation of human rights and one of the first major achievements of the United Nations.

Zimbabwe Human Rights (ZimRights) director Okay Machisa said the human rights abuses have been recorded across all society’s fabric.

“All spheres from social, political to economic rights have been trampled upon and all this is because of government and leadership’s mismanagement of the country.

“Zimbabweans who have been working hard regardless, have also had the brunt of not accessing their little hard earned cash and one wonders where the country is going.

“This year also saw the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission tabling a damming report on the partisan distribution of food as Zanu PF takes advantage of the drought. And it is the same tactics that they have been using over the years in which they deny perceived opposition members access to government food,” said Machisa.

The ZimRights director said this year was important as it witnessed the masses organising themselves and taking to demonstrating against hunger. “The demos were not initiated by any leader but by the people based on the condition of the stomachs. The vendors came out to demonstrate against police brutality. The unemployed graduates were also in the streets displaying their frustration and anger.”

Machisa said in terms of civil and political rights there was high activity as citizen movement gave government headaches as they demanded answers to pressing and basic human rights issues. “We had the likes of Tajamuka, the vendors led by Stern Zvorwadza and Pastor Evan Mawarire’s ThisFlag shaking government to the core.

“But we are saddened that our government responded to all this protest choruses by unleashing a brutal police force that descended heavily on the citizens who were out and out to fend what belongs to them – their rights.”

Machisa said 2016 also witnessed the interference of the Executive into the work of the judiciary and parliament. “The constitution clearly gives parameters and we believe the Executive is overriding other arms of government.

“We have seen the Executive protecting those being investigated for corruption and this is sending wrong signals across the board. We would like to see those ministers fingered in corrupt activities being brought to justice.”

He said also playing out was the deadly factions between G40 and Team Lacoste. “That fight has affected communities with the rights of ordinary people and even war veterans being tampered with.”

And as we fast approach the festive season, Machisa sees no joy for the masses. “Honestly speaking I am not sure if we are going to enjoy Christmas. This is a government that has failed to manage and is starving its own people; at times they have been very careless with people’s lives.”

Machisa wondered what kind of a world Zimbabweans have just found themselves living in where the very basic right; access to water has become a luxury.

“It is sad that service delivery is at its worst. You have residents lining up at boreholes for water and we are talking of people in the capital city.

“The problem of water is not only confined to high density areas but even in leafy suburbs where residents go for months without receiving the precious commodity.”

The ZimRights director said the introduction of bond notes while noble would benefit Zanu PF as a party more. “The bond notes are coming to rescue Zanu PF as we speed towards elections, it will oil their campaigns and what really matters for them is what happens between now and 2018. Nothing else matters.”

Machisa said his appeal to Zimbabweans is that whatever they do it has to be legally and uphold the constitution and our laws.

“I would like to remind Zimbabweans to be patient and that they have to know that what goes around comes around. Let us remain calm and push for our rights; we do not need outsiders to fight for us because this is our war. And this war we need to fight it through the legal way.

And he quotes a song from Suluman Chimbetu’s new song: “Sulu sings about the biblical Moses and pleads with him so that he can come and hit the Red Sea so that his children can cross and leave Pharaoh behind. That is prophetic!”

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