Economic Hardships Fueling Rights Abuses, Crisis

LOCAL civic groups have attributed the surge in rights violations in 2015 to the country’s worsening economic situation which saw massive job losses and the forced removal of vendors from city pavements.

In a statement, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CIZC), a grouping of over 70 democracy based NGOs in the country, said there was a direct link between increasing rights violations and the economy.

“It is evident that after having failed to resuscitate the economy, government got brutal against disgruntled citizens and the result was a wave of human rights violations,” said the group.

The year 2015 saw over 20 000 employees lose jobs under the now defunct three months’ notice of job termination window prompted by a controversial July 17, 2015 Supreme Court ruling.

Salary delays experienced late last year also saw restless workers turn to the streets to register their displeasure.

Similarly, the coming in of Saviour Kasukuwere as local government minister same year, also saw thousands of vendors making a living through selling perishables, clothes and other trinkets driven away from teeming city pavements by municipal police.

The evident loss of income among many citizens, coupled with growing frustration against a government which has failed to deliver over two million jobs as promised during the 2013 election campaign period, triggered street protests which were violently crushed by the state.

“Government labelled any form of protest against its failure to revive the economy as a move by opposition activists to discredit it and ‘effect regime change agenda’,” said the group.

“Determined to cling on to power, Zanu (PF) showed a firm commitment to crush genuine and legal protests by force.

“As the economy continues on a downward trend, disgruntlement among ordinary Zimbabweans reeling under poverty can only get worse and this raises fears of an increased clampdown on human rights by the government.”

Crisis also cited the March abduction of firebrand pro-democracy activist and journalist Itai Dzamara as one incident which triggered protests by citizens.

The demolition of homes build on undesignated land and protests by residents against poor service delivery, said the group, are some of the incidents that invited state brutality.

“The crisis that Zimbabwe is battling is largely attributable to poor governance, democratic deficits and political challenges,” said Crisis, which vowed to continue pressing for democratic reforms in the country.

“Concerned over the debilitating economy, civic society organisations under the banner of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CIZC) hold the view that the solution to the Zimbabwean crisis lies in the attainment of a progressive democratic developmental state which is characterized by advancement of political and civil rights as well as the economic well being for the citizens.”