ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) joins the rest of Africa in commemorating Africa Day by calling on the Zimbabwean government to end the pervasive practice of forced displacements of people.
Commemorated under the theme Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement, Africa Day celebrates the end of colonial rule on the African continent and acknowledges the successes of the African Union (AU) from its creation in 1963 (as the Organisation of African Unity) in the fight against colonialism as well as the progress that Africa has made, while reflecting on the common challenges faced by all people on the continent.
This year’s theme presents an opportune historical moment as it brings to the fore Africa’s continued exemplary level of shared solidarity towards displaced populations, in the spirit of Pan-Africanism, at a time when displaced persons are faced with discrimination and xenophobia in many parts of the world.
Several structural and multi-layered factors continue to trigger forced displacement, including socio-cultural and political-economic challenges, that result in underdevelopment, inequality, poverty, including disparity between women and men, sexual and gender-based violence, intolerance and mismanagement of diversity, bad governance, mismanagement of natural resources, corruption and conflicts.
ZLHR is concerned that Zimbabwe continues to contribute to the increasing population of forcefully displaced people on the continent.
According to the AU, there are an estimated 14,5 million internally displaced persons. Human rights violations, civil strife, violent conflicts, persecution, governance and democracy deficits, impunity, natural disasters, effects of drought and climate change have contributed to this displacement.
Sadly, Zimbabwe has also contributed to the increasing population of displaced people through its well-documented human rights record, governance and democracy deficits.
In Zimbabwe, it is worrying that despite the adoption of a “new” Constitution, which guarantees freedom from arbitrary eviction, people across the country continue to be evicted and to be displaced from their homes with government agencies. The role of the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, and local government authorities is well documented. The manner in which the majority of evictions and displacements have been executed is grossly and unjustifiably inhumane, and amounts to inhuman and degrading treatment of citizens in contravention of the Constitution and international and regional instruments to which Zimbabwe is a State party.
Government should realise that forced evictions and displacement of people are a gross violation of human rights, in particular the right to adequate housing. In addition, forced evictions and homelessness intensify social conflict and inequality and invariably affect the disadvantaged people, who mostly comprise socially, economically, environmentally and politically disadvantaged and vulnerable sectors of society.