ZIMBABWE Human Rights Commission chairman Elasto Mugwadi yesterday said the commission would soon engage government demanding recourse for several families who lost their houses during the recent demolition blitz in parts of Harare.
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In an interview with NewsDay after taking delivery of various office equipment and vehicles sourced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Harare, Mugwadi also expressed concern over the welfare of thousands of families displaced from Chingwizi Transit Camp in Masvingo.
“Government is facing challenges due to the current economic meltdown because of Western-imposed sanctions and at times it is forced to demolish structures that it thinks are illegal, but one would ask where government was when those structures were being put up in the first place,” Mugwadi queried.
“It is the methods being used that one would raise issues about because you do not demolish houses before acquiring alternative accomodation for the victims and that violates fundamental rights to shelter when the rainy season is around.”
He said the commission would liaise with government officials over demolitions and urge them to deal with the issue of children learning under difficult circumstances at farm satellite schools, as well as discuss the situation at Chingwizi through a report that will be presented before Parliament.
“During our visit to Chingwizi, we were surprised to learn that children walked up to 15 kilometres to get to the nearest school. That is not healthy for educational purposes because by the time they get to school, they are tired and the quality of education falls away.”
Mugwadi said the donation by UNDP would go a long way in solving a myriad of problems that included lack of equipment, vehicles, and low budgetary allocations by the fiscus, where only $2 million was released for 2014.
“We had asked for $7,5 million, but were allocated $2 million, which is also disbursed in bits and pieces. During the past four years, we did not have a budget to talk about and we could not recruit support staff. With the donations and budgetary support we now have, we have filled about 72% of the required posts,” he said.
UNDP deputy country director for programmes Martin Maya said they would continue to assist the ZHRC to enable them overcome their challenges, and enable human rights practices that would enable external and internal dialogue in line with Paris principles.