Cash-strapped govt extends begging bowl for ZHRC operations

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THE cash-strapped government has extended a begging bowl to its development partners in Europe to fund the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC)’s operations.

by VENERANDA LANGA

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Speaking during the official opening of the new ZHRC headquarters in Harare last Friday, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa disclosed that most independent commissions in the country received paltry budgetary allocations from Treasury and required external funding to execute their duties.

ZHRC received $1,2 million under the 2016 National Budget.

“We call upon our valued development partners to continue augmenting resources allocated to the commission by Treasury. We will do our bit, but please do your bit also,” Mnangagwa said.

In 2011, government forked out $1,3 million to purchase a three-storey building for ZHRC in Harare, but ran out of cash to refurbish it.

The Royal Danish and Norwegian Embassies, through the Danish Institute for Human Rights and the European Union, had to chip in with a $780 000 grant to fund the renovations.

Speaking at the same event, the commission’s chairperson Elasto Mugwadi narrated how they had been operating as nomads, with commissioners at times operating from their homes due to lack of offices.

“Since inception, we had no financial resources or budget to operate from as required by Paris principles that human rights commissions should have their own premises for independence and autonomy. From March 2010 to June 2013, ZHRC commissioners have been operating from their private homes, until we moved to rented offices in Belgravia,” he said.

Mugwadi said there was still need for further refurbishments on the three-storey building to ensure it was accessible to people living with disabilities and the elderly.

He also called for full decentralisation of ZHRC to community level.

Head of mission at the Danish embassy, Signe Winding Albjerg, said Denmark has supported ZHRC in its education, research, monitoring and handling of human rights complaints with a budget of $2,5 million.

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