‘Zim com­mit­ted to pro­mot­ing hu­man rights’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Lloyd Gumbo in GENEVA, Switzer­land

ZIM­BABWE is com­mit­ted to the pro­mo­tion and pro­tec­tion of hu­man rights as ev­i­denced by the adop­tion of var­i­ous ini­tia­tives that it has come up with to en­sure its ci­ti­zens en­joy their rights, Vice Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa said yes­ter­day. He said this when he of­fi­cially pre­sented Zim­babwe’s hu­man rights na­tional re­port at the sec­ond cy­cle of the Univer­sal Pe­ri­odic Re­view at the United Na­tions Cen­tre here.

VP Mnan­gagwa said Zim­babwe had made progress in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the 130 rec­om­men­da­tions that it ac­cepted from UN Mem­ber-States in 2012.

He said the na­tional re­port had in­put from var­i­ous stake­hold­ers among them civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions, com­mu­nity-based or­gan­i­sa­tions, faith-based or­gan­i­sa­tions, Govern­ment min­istries, labour, the pri­vate sec­tor, independent com­mis­sions and United Na­tions Coun­try Team.

VP Mnan­gagwa said the neg­a­tive im­pact of the El Nino-in­duced drought ad­versely af­fected Govern­ment’s im­ple­men­ta­tion of so­cial and eco­nomic rights, which left the pop­u­la­tion vul­ner­a­ble. “The neg­a­tive im­pact of the cur­rent drought is putting pres­sure on the Govern­ment to re­di­rect re­sources from na­tional so­cial pro­grammes to­wards feed­ing over 800 000 vul­ner­a­ble house­holds,” said VP Mnan­gagwa.

He said the eco­nomic sanc­tions im­posed on Zim­babwe by the West wors­ened the sit­u­a­tion as the coun­try could not get bal­ance of pay­ment sup­port. De­spite these chal­lenges, VP Mnan­gagwa said Govern­ment con­tin­ued to put in place ini­tia­tives and poli­cies that en­sure im­ple­men­ta­tion of its so­cioe­co­nomic and cul­tural obli­ga­tions.

“In or­der to pro­mote these fun­da­men­tal rights, Govern­ment, among other ini­tia­tives launched the Zim­babwe Agenda for Sus­tain­able So­cio-Eco­nomic Trans­for­ma­tion in 2013, which is the Govern­ment’s ma­jor eco­nomic blue­print that is aimed at achiev­ing sus­tain­able and equitable eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment, pro­pelled by the judicious and op­ti­mum util­i­sa­tion of the coun­try’s nat­u­ral re­sources,” he said.

To en­sure food se­cu­rity in 2017, VP Mnan­gagwa said Govern­ment em­barked on com­mand agri­cul­ture with the ob­jec­tive of pro­duc­ing enough food. He said adop­tion of the new Constitution in 2013 was an­other mile­stone that Zim­babwe achieved since the last re­view.

“The Constitution has been lauded for its sub­stan­tive con­tent that in­tro­duces salient foun­da­tional demo­cratic el­e­ments and an ex­panded bill of rights, in­cor­po­rat­ing all gen­er­a­tions of rights. These rights can only be mean­ing­ful to our peo­ple through im­ple­men­ta­tion of leg­isla­tive and ad­min­is­tra­tive mea­sures to ac­tu­alise the Constitution,” said VP Mnan­gagwa.

He said es­tab­lish­ment of the Con­sti­tu­tional Court also saw the bench mak­ing land­mark rul­ings that en­hanced hu­man rights for in­stance against child mar­riages on the ba­sis of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution that sets the age of ma­jor­ity at 18.

VP Mnan­gagwa said Zim­babwe had rat­i­fied sev­eral hu­man rights treaties and con­ven­tions that would go a long way in pro­mot­ing and pro­tect­ing hu­man rights. He said in line with the rec­om­men­da­tions from the pre­vi­ous UPR, the new Constitution pro­vided for the es­tab­lish­ment of independent com­mis­sions, that was au­tonomously funded.

Some mem­ber states had raised ad­vance ques­tions that VP Mnan­gagwa ad­dressed in the re­port. The is­sue of end­ing forced child mar­riages was one of the most dom­i­nant is­sues that was raised with VP Mnan­gagwa say­ing the Con­sti­tu­tional Court had since made a rul­ing on the mat­ter while Govern­ment would come up with a law that har­monises and aligns all mar­riage laws.

West­ern coun­tries among them Bri­tain, Ger­many, Swe­den and Nether­lands im­plored Govern­ment to rat­ify the Con­ven­tion Against Tor­ture and other Cruel, In­hu­man or De­grad­ing Treat­ment and the In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion for the Pro­tec­tion of all Per­sons against En­forced Dis­ap­pear­ances. Spain also asked Zim­babwe to clar­ify the dis­ap­pear­ance of MDC-T ac­tivist Itai Dza­mara.

VP Mnan­gagwa said iso­lated cases of dis­ap­pear­ances had been re­ported pre­vi­ously. “This is a ma­jor con­cern to Govern­ment. When­ever such re­ports are brought to the at­ten­tion of law en­force­ment agents, thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tions are car­ried out. In this par­tic­u­lar case, Govern­ment is in­ves­ti­gat­ing all the leads to es­tab­lish the where­abouts of our cit­i­zen and in this re­gard Govern­ment is work­ing with the fam­ily of the miss­ing per­son and Zim­babwe Lawyers for Hu­man Rights,” said VP Mnan­gagwa.

The United States of Amer­ica asked how Govern­ment would ad­dress the Zim­babwe Elec­toral Com­mis­sion’s lack of funds and in­de­pen­dence in or­der to en­sure that ci­ti­zens are al­lowed free and equal par­tic­i­pa­tion at the 2018 har­monised elec­tions. “Zec is independent and Govern­ment does not in­ter­fere with its op­er­a­tions,” said VP Mnan­gagwa.

“Govern­ment is sup­port­ing Zec to dis­charge its man­date. Since the last re­view, a to­tal amount of $1, 913 549 was ex­tended to Zec. This is de­spite our cur­rent eco­nomic chal­lenges,” said VP Mnan­gagwa.

He also dis­missed con­cerns raised by the US that food re­lief was be­ing dis­trib­uted on par­ti­san grounds say­ing Govern­ment had adopted a zero tol­er­ance pol­icy to such ac­tiv­i­ties. The US and Bri­tain also asked what mea­sures Govern­ment was putting in place to en­sure peo­ple ex­er­cise their right to free­dom of as­sem­bly and free association. “Govern­ment fully ac­knowl­edges its obli­ga­tions to pro­mote, pro­tect and ful­fil the rights to free­dom of ex­pres­sion, association and as­sem­bly,” said VP Mnan­gagwa.

“How­ever, these rights are not ab­so­lute and must be ex­er­cised peace­fully and with due re­spect to the rights of oth­ers, as pro­vided for in the Constitution. Hence, Govern­ment will con­tinue to en­sure that such rights are en­joyed by all with­out caus­ing any harm or prej­u­dice to other peo­ple,” said VP Mnan­gagwa.

Vice Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa

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