LOCAL human rights organisation, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum (ZHRF), on Tuesday urged government to adopt a sustainable human-centred development plan in its international re-engagement efforts.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
The ZHRF released the report – which details how authorities could include human rights in their re-engagement agenda – at a time government desperately needs international monetary support.
The rights group said the ‘open for business mantra’ Mnangagwa had been touting since coming into power was not enough to convince investors to come and do business in Zimbabwe.
“Substantive changes in human rights practices and property rights policy have to be crafted and implemented. Foreign Direct Investment and companies are attracted by market forces and how they are performing, of which there are no positive changes in Zimbabwe as yet. There are many issues which need to be attended to, such as the indigenisation policy, which scare away investors,” ZHRF said.
“In terms of human rights, multi-national companies are regulated by laws of their own countries and most are prevented by law to invest in countries which are not conducive to human rights. As long as small companies, SMEs (small-to-medium enterprises) and farmers’ land is under threat of being expropriated illegally, there is a low possibility that international investors will come flocking into the country to inject their capital. Property rights and the safety of investors need to be guaranteed.”
Some of the suggestions made include the State committing to ‘concrete steps’ in supporting human rights, crafting a foreign policy in the context of a multilateral system and questioning countries anxiously seeking to invest in Zimbabwe.
“States must be wary of the danger of grand corruption that may come in the guise of investments as only a few people may benefit from such ventures. Giving an example of Malaysia, where new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad warned of the danger of ‘smart colonialism’, where rich States may offer deals which they know poor countries cannot afford and later acquire their assets in place of debt as happened in Sri-lanka,” ZHRF said.
The report comes at a time when President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is under the spotlight for its heavy-handed response to protests in August 2018 and January 2019, which saw security forces shoot-down civilians.