By Upenyu Chaota
As the world marks the 61st anniversary of the International Human Rights Day, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (The Forum) has lamented the deterioration in living standards, claiming that the President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government was not showing an urgent quest to fix the economy.
The 2019 commemorations are being held under the global theme, ‘Youth Standing up for Human Rights’.
The United Nations, in coming up with this theme, aims to celebrate the potential of youth in facilitating sustainable development, amplify their voices, and engage a broad range of global audiences in the promotion and protection of rights.
In a statement on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day on Tuesday (December 10), The Forum slammed the government for not dealing decisively with the current economic crisis which has seen doctors embarking on a crippling strike which has brought chaos at the public hospitals.
“It is within that context that the Forum takes time to reflect on the state of human rights in Zimbabwe in 2019 and how it has advanced the tenets of the Declaration as it commemorates this day. Zimbabwe has embraced the Declaration by incorporating its provisions in its Constitution, expounded under the Bill of Rights.
“The Forum laments that we are commemorating the coming into effect of this milestone document that proclaims the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being, against a background of a deteriorating political, economic and social environment in Zimbabwe.
“The Forum is particularly concerned by the lack urgency on the part of government to resolve the economic crisis, contrary to the spirit of the Declaration we are commemorating today,” said the Forum in a statement.
The Forum noted with concern the economic crisis that has resulted in erosion of disposable income and unemployment resulting in widespread poverty primarily because of poor governance, pervasive corruption and mismanagement of funds.
“This has manifested in a crippling industrial action by healthcare personnel in state medical facilities, continuous surging of prices of foodstuffs, shortages of clean water, and the right to education has also been severely affected,” reads the statement.
The Forum slammed the government for suppressing the views of the masses in the face of the economic crisis by using brute force on all opposing views.
“It is regrettable that while all this has been happening, the government instead has increased suppression of rights and freedoms.
“In particular, the freedom of expression, assembly, association and the freedom to demonstrate and petitions are severely curtailed. During the year the Forum recorded an increase in levels of violence and brutality especially against known and or perceived protestors and human rights defenders.
“The Forum notes with concern the growing impunity and disregard for the rule of law by government institutions whose mandate is to serve and protect the citizens of Zimbabwe,” reads the statement.
The Forum also castigated the President Mnangagwa led administration for not implementing the findings of the Commission of Inquiry into the August 1, 2018 violence which saw soldiers shooting civilians in the streets of Harare.
“It is over a year since the release of the findings from the Commission of Inquiry into the August 1 post-election shootings and the recommendations which include prosecution of the police and military officers responsible for the shootings are yet to be implemented.
“Instead there has been an escalation in the brutality by the same security institutions on protestors and innocent civilians,” reads the statement.
The Forum said that it was launching the Tolerance Matters campaign which seeks to promote a culture of respect for one another and appreciation of diversity and inclusion.