Mnangagwa urged to ‘walk the talk’ on human rights abuses

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By African News Agency

HARARE: A prominent Zimbabwean human rights activist on Monday reminded President Emmerson Mnangagwa that he had termed the abduction of journalist activist Itai Dzamara “barbaric” and called on him to follow his words with actions to prevent and punish rights abuses.

Dzamara has been missing since March 2015 after suspected state security agents abducted him at his Glen View home.

Zimbabwe Peace Project director Jestina Mukoko, a victim of state security agents abductions after the 2008 election reruns, said: “I have a few words for President Mnangagwa, when Itai Dzamara was abducted in 2015, he answered in Parliament that the abduction was ‘barbaric’. 

“With all due respect, I call upon the president to return to the words and show that it is barbaric. Such things are not expected from civilised people, inflicting pain on another person and the constitution clearly states that.”

Mukoko said this as Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in commemorating International Human Rights Day on Monday.

A former news anchor for the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Mukoko said she felt sad over what had happened to herself and others who went through similar experiences.

“It is a sad day in that when abducted, you do not know your fate as well as the safety of family. For instance, I was told I was going to die and there was nothing that was going to happen to them (abductors). I thank God that I am alive,” she said.

Lawyer Jeremiah Bhamu, who has represented many abduction victims, called on the Zimbabwean government to ratify the convention on torture.

“The constitution provides scope for ratification to take place. It requires Zimbabwe to anchor its foreign policy around respect for international law so that the convention on enforced disappearance is part and parcel of international law,” he said.

“If Zimbabwe is to seriously commit to what it says, then that particular convention must be ratified and domesticated.”

Many Zimbabweans have been abducted and killed. Dzamara has not been seen in the three and half years since he was abducted and the fate of Paul Chizuze, who disappeared in 2012 also remains a mystery.

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) said it took note of the human rights challenges that continue to characterise the Zimbabwean political and socio-economic landscape.

“The use of brutal force against protestors and civilians continue to pose unnecessary morbidity and mortality in Zimbabwe,” ZADHR executive director Calvin Fambirai said.

“ZADHR urges the authorities in Zimbabwe on this historic day that it’s now time to take practical steps towards promoting and protecting human rights. The international community must also continue to stand side by side with the Zimbabwean people in our quest for the enjoyment of human rights.”

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association said while the adoption of the new constitution with a modern Declaration of Rights, enshrined in chapter four, in 2013 has been an important milestone, a lot needed to be done to align laws, respect its provisions and establish a culture of constitutionalism.