By Anna Chibamu
MDC legislator and party secretary for justice and legal affairs, Innocent Gonese (pictured below) says the country’s human rights situation has become worse than it was during the time of late former President Robert Mugabe.
In a statement to coincide with International Human Rights Day commemorations, Gonese said under Mugabe, Zimbabwe was just a police state but has now been turned into a military state under President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“We are actually worse off as previously, we had a police state and now the military has been roped in to maintain the regime’s grip on power,” said the Mutare lawmaker.
“The abuse of policing state agents that have been turned into agents of terror are a cause of concern to MDC.
“The police force has not been transformed into a service and instead of implementing the provisions of the law, they continue to muzzle the people’s rights.”
Gonese slammed the Zanu PF led government for allegedly removing citizens’ right to demonstrate as enshrined in the national constitution with activists often bludgeoned by police for embarking on street protests.
“The regime does not only pay lip service to the laudable principles enunciated in our Constitution and International Human Rights Instruments but is in fact the biggest culprit in the abuse of fundamental human rights which it has a duty and obligation to promote and protect.
“It is unfortunate that after the excesses of the racist regime, the people of Zimbabwe did not get any respite from the Zanu PF regime after independence as it perpetuated the abuses.
“Freedom to demonstrate and present petitions is enshrined Section 59 of our Constitution and it is in fact one of the reasons that our gallant fighters went to war for and some paid the ultimate price.
“To make matters worse and contrary to the pontification that we are on a reform trajectory, the regime has passed into law the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act (MOPA) which is worse than the Public Order and Security Act (POSA).
“What is even more disturbing is the fact that instead of promoting the observance of human rights, it is the government which is responsible for the maiming and brutalisation of the ordinary citizens as well as political opponents such as the Movement for Democratic Change.”