State and non-state actors should embrace and strengthen the ideals of peace-ZLHR

ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) joins the rest of the world
in commemorating International Day of Peace with a call for both state
and non-state actors to embrace and strengthen the ideals of peace and
build a safer future for all people in Zimbabwe.

International Day of Peace which is observed around the world every
year on 21 September, is devoted to strengthening principles of peace,
through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.

International Day of Peace affords us an opportunity to reflect and
recommit to the sincere undertaking by the United Nations and the
global peoples to promote and safeguard peace throughout the world.

In 2020, International Day of Peace is commemorated under the theme
“Shaping Peace Together.”

The theme could not be more appropriate as it galvanises us all to
implement and respect instruments that enforce values such as peace,
freedom, justice, equality, development and human dignity across
Zimbabwe and the world.

In 2020, we commemorate International Day of Peace when we are
grappling with an unprecedented global health pandemic in the form of
coronavirus, which has thrown the world into turmoil and is
compromising and putting peace at risk.

In Zimbabwe, the devastating social and economic consequences of
coronavirus coupled with the unjust enforcement of national lockdown
measures by government, have brought some forms of violence against
people and robbed them of peace while exposing them to abuse and
violation of several of their basic rights.

Unmeasured enforcement of national lockdown measures has resulted in
the addition of yet another layer of tragedy and depriving people
especially human rights defenders (HRDs) and ordinary citizens who are
perceived as enemies of government from enjoying peace.

It is tragic and regrettable that state and non-state actors continue
to work tirelessly to deny citizens peace and fundamental rights which
were at the core of the struggle for liberation.

Forty years after the attainment of independence, Zimbabwe still
carries the dictatorial hallmarks of erosion of personal liberties,
repression, abductions, enforced disappearances, torture, surveillance
and abuse of the criminal justice system to harass, intimidate and
persecute HRDs and ordinary citizens.

State security agents and other non-state actors aligned to repressive
elements of the old order continue acting with impunity to violate
people’s rights.
Unwarranted harassment and arrests of lawyers, journalists and HRDs
including students for carrying out their professional duties still
continues.

ZLHR condemns the resort to acts of violence by any aggrieved parties
to settle disputes.
Violence, in any form, and by any member of our society violates the
right to personal security provided for in Section 52(a)(i) of the
Constitution, which guarantees the right of every person to freedom
from all forms of violence from public and private sources.

Tolerance of differing opinions is a crucial aspect of democracy and
any violent actions will further limit the right of people to exercise
their constitutionally protected freedoms and rights to demonstrate
and petition, peaceful assembly, expression and association, which are
guaranteed in the Constitution and Zimbabwe’s international human
rights obligations.

Seven years after the enactment of a new Constitution, the process of
national healing remains elusive and the National Peace and
Reconciliation Commission tasked with promoting cohesion, unity and
reconciliation has failed to have any impact or effect.

All these transgressions are the hallmarks of government’s tragic
failure to foster peace in Zimbabwe which should compel and hasten all
of us to commit to re-orienting people’s attitudes towards respect for
the Constitution, national laws, the rule of law as well as to build a
society free of violence, fear, intimidation and hatred.

We must find ways of promoting inclusive approaches to conflict
prevention and ending violence as a pathway for sustaining peace.