President Robert Mugabe’s unrelenting attacks on the very foundations of this country’s constitutionalism continued unabated last week, this time he trained his sights on the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC).
It is common knowledge and well-documented that some Zanu PF officials are using food aid as a political tool and ZHRC was only reiterating what is already in the public domain.
Instead of taking a hard look into findings of the ZHRC investigation, Mugabe accused the body of being an international headline-seeker and all but rubbished their findings.
Since Mugabe felt agitated by the report, what he should have done was to engage ZHRC and investigate their findings and, where possible, rebuke his party members, who are using food aid as a political tool.
Mugabe’s statements on Friday would have had carried weight if the ZHRC was the only body to issue such an adverse report on food distribution, but other organisations have reported similar findings.
To their credit ZHRC cited examples of incidences when food aid was distributed on partisan lines, which Mugabe cannot simply wish away.
We do not know whether this was just political rhetoric and grandstanding, but Mugabe’s attack on the ZHRC has opened up room for similar attacks from zealots in his party.
ZHRC is an independent body, whose job is to investigate human rights abuses and it should be supported by all means possible.
We hope that ZHRC is not cowed by the savaging they received from Mugabe and that this episode strengthens them in their resolve to shine the light into the dark corners of human rights abuses in the country.
It is not lost on many that the attack came shortly after another such blasting of the judiciary, as Mugabe also savaged judges for ruling the protests to go ahead, as allowed by the law.
Mugabe cannot and should not expect the judiciary and any other bodies to always give favourable rulings for his party, and where they do not, he should not consider this as a slight on him and his party, but rather an opportunity to fix obvious ills.
Instead of undermining the judiciary or the ZHRC, the President has a duty to ensure that these bodies are protected and encouraged, as this is the only way the country can progress.
The strength and independence of statutory bodies, such as the ZHRC, should be the very foundations on which the country is built on, as they reiterate the equality of every Zimbabwean, regardless of what political party they belong to.