Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara Friday accused President Robert Mugabe of having a negative attitude towards efforts to fight for human rights in the country.
Mutambara was furious about President Mugabe’s failure to turn up at a human rights event where the country’s three political leaders were expected to address thousands of Zimbabweans on the issue of human rights in the country.
President Mugabe has in the past charged that the issue of human rights was being used as an excuse by Western countries to impose sanctions on him and his party.
“Where is (President) Mugabe?” a fuming Mutambara asked. “Prime Minister (Tsvangirai), where is Zanu PF? Its absence, his absence, is a sign of a cough at the belief of human rights. Where are they? We are supposed to be here together — people from Zanu PF and the MDC because issues of human rights are for all.”
Tsvangirai and senior officials, including ministers from both formations of the MDC, were present at the International Human Rights Day commemorations.
Zanu PF officials and their supporters were conspicuous by their absence.
“We should build a culture of human rights in this country and it should begin in our homes,” Mutambara bellowed in his trademark voice.
“If one kills he should be punished. We cannot be a country that believes in human rights when they are violated with impunity.
“Let us have the truth and take correct measures so that tomorrow no one kills,” he said.
Mutambara said the inclusive government came as a result of problems of violence and rigging by Zanu PF in 2008 and it had the duty to create conditions conducive for free and fair elections. Without those conditions, he said, Zimbabwe would slide back to the June 27 electoral nightmare.
“We need to set up reforms that include a new constitution, media reforms, political reforms, economic reforms and security sector reforms, then we can talk of elections,” Mutambara said.
“Elections should lead to losers congratulating winners and the winner setting up a government,” he said.
Prime Minister Tsvangirai told the gathering that people who felt they were not happy with how the government was running were free to protest and demonstrate.
“When we formed this inclusive government we wanted people to feel human and not to be dehumanised. The police, CIO and the army are national institutions that should not belong to any party,” he said.
“We are not against them but we want them to act rightly as national institutions. They should stop beating up people,” he said.