state of human rights in Zimbabwe
SIX Bindura University students including ZINASU secretary general Beloved
Chiweshe, are in custody for insulting and denouncing Stan Mudenge and
President Robert Mugabe.
They are being charged
with contravening Section 19 (1) and Section 24 of the Public Order
and Security Act (POSA).
According to John
Rawls “laws and institutions no matter how efficient and well
arranged must be reformed or abolished if they are unjust”.
Each person possesses
an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society
cannot override. For this reason justice denies that the loss of freedom
for some is made right by a greater good shared by others. POSA is a
law that calls for a review of the human rights situation in Zimbabwe.
What really are
we talking about here?
In simple terms, Human rights are defined as what have because we are
human beings, nothing else. However, it is unfortunate that Zimbabweans
are being denied of this important aspect of their very existence. The
human rights situation in Zimbabwe makes extreme sad reading. It is
mired in controversies and sagas which have all pointed out to the erosion
of basic fundamental human rights for the Zimbabwean people. To make
matters worse the Zanu PF government has in the recent times shown it
has no intention of improving its human rights record by even failing
to put Zimbabwe forward as a candidate on the United Nations Human Rights
Council. As a serial violator of human rights the current government
continues to keep Zimbabwe on the slopes, hence the human rights situation
continues to deteriorate. It is inescapable that the human rights situation
in Zimbabwe is closely linked to issues of governance and the rule of
Due to Zanu PF’s organised violence and torture many Zimbabweans
are now living in exile with many seeking asylum in different countries.
Approximately three million Zimbabweans have fled the country not just
because of the deteriorating economic situation but mostly because the
current government has gagged the nation in an attempt to stop people
from discussing important political issues. The young people left in
Zimbabwe have no hope for a future at all, their hopes have been dashed
and their civil liberties and human rights are under constant threat
from the relentless state security agents.
In Zimbabwe today, people do not enjoy the right to free speech; they
have no right to the freedom of movement and association. These are
rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The right
to free speech is a cornerstone for the protection of other human rights.
Freedom of _expression constitutes one of the essential foundations
of a democratic society, one of the basic conditions for its progress
and for the development of humanity. This right applies not only to
information or ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive
but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the state or any sector
of the population. Such are the demands of pluralism tolerance and broadmindedness
without which there is no democratic society. In the recent years the
Zimbabwean government has withdrawn these rights gagging the nation
in a bid to stop anyone criticising the current president or his ministers.
The government in Zimbabwe has slowly but surely abandoned the rule
of law deteriorating easily into a constitutional dictatorship, courtesy
of POSA, AIPPA and dreaded Presidential Powers Temporary Measures Act.
The judiciary is no longer independent and many judges have in the past
resigned rather than work in courts where the CIO dictates to them the
terms of justice. The executive does not enforce any judgments which
are not in their favour and this leaves courts as toothless bull dogs.
Zimbabwe is now slipped into a police state or banana republic where
many innocent people have died in the hands of the Zimbabwean police
and secret agents. Why arrest students for expressing themselves? Hanna
Arendt said “It seems that a man who is nothing but a man has
lost the very qualities which make it possible for others to treat him
as a fellow man” Whither to Zimbabwe?
What do people think is the way forward in such a state? The old opposition
parties albeit having tried have largely failed to penetrate Mugabe‘s
fortress. The elections are rigged and stolen away from the people vote
against it, during elections people are assaulted and intimidated into
submission. In the rural areas the village people are forced to vote
for ZANU PF in order to get food handouts or else they are condemned
to starvation. In a situation where the inflation rate is soaring, rural
and urban poverty rates are escalating and our people continue to starve
it is high time we look for the way forward. We need new tactics, new
strategic and charismatic leadership, and someone suitable to tackle
these critical issues.
Professor Arthur Mutambara came at a time when the opposition was and
is still in total disarray, disorganisation, acrimony and bitter division.
He possesses the intellectual mettle and political stamina to weed out
Robert Mugabe, his cronies and the ruthless Zanu PF machinery out of
the Zimbabwean political field and condemn them to political wilderness.
His oratical abilities are second to none and style of deliverance makes
him a marvel to listen to. Prof. Mutambara’s political evangelism
largely powered by his strong beliefs in generational intervention,
democratic values, dynamic and strategic leadership, universal application
of the rule of law, social justice, globalisation and economic vibrancy
resonates very well with the nimble minded Zimbabweans in search of
real leadership not populists.
could be a new figure to conventional opposition politics in Zimbabwe
but obviously not new to the politics of peaceful resistance. Some have
likened Mutambara to the luminaries of the liberation struggle such
as the late Herbert Chitepo and Dr Edison Zvobgo to name a few. If given
support, Prof Mutambara has the vision and ability to take Zimbabwe
to new political horizons never reached before. His detractors try day
and night to discredit his credentials and experience in politics but
will not succeed. However, those with greater vision and a more rational
spectacle will rally behind the professor and give him the support and
the mandate that he deserves to save country and bring prosperity to
Zimbabweans. Democracy means the right to criticise, the right to say
what we feel about the administration of the country. A government by
the people, for the people means people can talk without fear or arbitrary
This new party that Prof Mutambara leads will ensure that your human
rights and civil liberties are respected, protected and implemented,
and that the courts will be left free to do justice without any interference.
Lets all work together against one common enemy here – ZANU PF!
Food for thought.
Lynn Mhlanga is a human rights activist and Doctoral candidate in Human
Rights based in England and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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