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CIO puts Mugabe on the spot

News
TWO prominent human rights defenders have dragged President Robert Mugabe to the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) demanding that he sets up a board to keep State security agents under check.

TWO prominent human rights defenders have dragged President Robert Mugabe to the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) demanding that he sets up a board to keep State security agents under check.

BY RICHARD CHIDZA

The activists also want Mugabe compelled to investigate the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) over alleged gross human rights abuses dating back 35 years ago.

Rashid Mahiya and Hilton Chironga — both of Heal Zimbabwe Trust — are seeking an interdict to force Mugabe to put in place mechanisms to investigate CIO agents over their alleged involvement in the killings and abductions of several citizens since independence.

Mahiya is the director of Heal Zimbabwe Trust, while Chironga is an official of the rights advocacy group involved in healing and integration.

mugabe

In an application filed at the ConCourt early this month by their lawyer Tendai Biti of Tendai Biti Law, Mahiya and Chironga argued that Mugabe was in breach of Section 234 of the Constitution and had no reason to fail to introduce a parliamentary Bill to operationalise the “body that should superintend over the excesses of Mugabe’s security apparatus”.

“In terms of Section 210 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, an Act of Parliament must provide for an effective and independent mechanism for receiving and investigating complaints from members of the public about misconduct on the part of members of the security services and for remedying any harm caused by such misconduct,” the rights activists said in their application.

They cited the government, Vice-President and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi and Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi as respondents.

“More than two years after the passing of the Constitution, the Executive has not complied with the Constitution by bringing into existence the Act of Parliament defined in Section 210 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

“Section 324 says all constitutional obligations must be performed diligently and without delay,” the pair argued.

“The failure by the Executive and indeed the respondents to bring the law envisaged in Section 210 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe is a breach of Section 324 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”

Mahiya and Chironga said they were familiar with the manner in which Bills were brought to Parliament, adding that they did not envisage any “problems in bringing the same”.

“There have been instances where Cabinet, in less than two weeks, has approved principles of the same referred to the Cabinet committee on legislation then approved in Cabinet and then gazetting (sic),” the pair argued.

“The flurry of Bills which were approved by the Seventh Parliament towards the end of its term, which included the Finance Bill and Money Laundering legislation, were all fast-tracked in this manner.”

They added that 45 days were enough for the respondents to bring a Bill on the issue to the National Assembly.

“Further, the extent that as a Zimbabwean, I am entitled to full protection of the Constitution and its laws and at the present moment, I am being denied protection of the law provided for in terms of Section 210, I contend that the respondents’ actions are a breach on my constitutional rights as protected by Section 56(1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” Chironga said.

He added that Zimbabweans had over the years endured gross human rights abuses at the hands of State security agents, mainly CIO, police and the army.

“Various atrocities and flagrant violations of human rights have been committed against our people by the State at various levels. In my line of work, I have witnessed the agonies of the violence perpetrated against our citizens in unmitigated proportions,” he said.

“Many of our citizens have an uncomfortable relationship with security agents as defined in the Constitution. This includes even ordinary motorists travelling on our roads and indeed we have many complaints against the numerous traffic stops set-up by the Zimbabwe Republic Police.”

CIO is a dreaded organisation and has been accused of being used as a tool by Zanu PF in its fights against its opponents.