Govt’s human rights record not helping matters

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guest column Learnmore Zuze

IF truth be said, there is no political leader who takes comfort in realising that the people they lead are scrounging for survival.

Currently, it is easier to hail accusations of mismanagement and self-enrichment against the government at large, but it must be factually borne in mind that even the most corrupt and callous of leaders do not take joy in the suffering of the masses.

Former Libyan dictator and authoritarian Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, for all his reputation for heartlessness, ensured that economically, Libya was a distance ahead of most countries.

The same is true for most countries that may be branded autocratic; there remains that sense of realisation that the
citizenry ought to afford the basics and necessities of life.

Even at a time when all else was crumbling before ex-President Robert Mugabe, as he waged a verbal joust against
President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair early in 2000, the geriatric tried to come up with incentives, freedom trains and the infamous scheme, Basic Commodities Supply Side Intervention.

It was upon this realisation by the Mugabe regime that its people needed to live, that the programme was introduced. I will repeat that it would be a lie of elephantine proportions that the present government is having a field day while fuel prices go up almost fortnightly. It would be untrue that all is well within the corridors of power when the government worker is earning a paltry salary incapable of sustaining a family of three.

Further, it cannot be accurate to say the government rejoices over the prices of basic goods which have now gone haywire.

I have to repeat the need for objectivity in this matter and avoid being a critic for the sake of the word. No
government, no matter how irresponsible, takes joy at the pains suffered by citizens. Against this background it must,
therefore, be acknowledged that the incumbent government intends to mend the economy, but they desperately lack the
critically-needed knowledge to shift the economic fortunes.

It’s correct to say they wholly desire to lower inflation and halt the immense hardship visited upon the people, but they lack the requisite knowledge. This relates specifically to the economy and probably it could be easier to forgive a person who desires something, but lacks the knowledge.

The scorching question which is the focal point of this piece has nothing to do with the economy, but everything to do with human rights. While it can be understood that there are many factors that govern the economy, the same cannot be said towards the upholding of human rights.

It does not take ingenuity to ensure that the freedoms of citizens are protected by a government. There is no expenditure
incurred in upholding the rule of law; the very thing that would boast confidence in investors. It is quite disquieting that the current government seems to be falling way below the radar on both the economy and human rights scale.

The mere upholding of human rights could, at least, convince people on the commitment of the present government.

Surely, the handling of the Job Sikhala case, which had the world’s eyes fastened on it, does very little to prove that this era is any different from the previous one. Sikhala becomes the 21st person to be charged with treason, this year alone.

Reports of torture of suspects in this day and age are quite a blow on human rights efforts. Sikhala’s lawyers allege the
Zengeza West MP was tortured and blindfolded, right through the Bikita journey.

It is further reported that Sikhala’s lawyers were locked outside and at first not allowed to talk to their client.

Facts presented indicate the suspect was denied food and medication.

Surely, this is where the plot is being lost. The very economy the government wishes to mend and the massively required investor confidence stems from nowhere, but the upholding of constitutional provisions.

Where the Constitution evinces the need for the rights of suspects and prisoners to be observed, the opposite happens. Is it any wonder that America, to date, has called for the arrest of the killer soldiers of August 1?

Without these critical reforms, it’s an outright lie that an iota of economic improvement can be witnessed in the country.

Outside the Sikhala saga, it is reported by the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) that the Zanu PF leadership and traditional leaders are marginalising rural dwellers in dire need of food aid by distributing handouts along partisan lines.

The ZPP notes that even under this new government, there are countless cases where destitute and marginalised citizens are being unlawfully denied social welfare assistance because of their political affiliation, in clear contravention of section 77(b) of the Constitution Amendment (No 20), which states that every person has the right to sufficient food, with the State having the responsibility of ensuring that reasonable legislative measures are taken to realise this right.

Even the resurrection of the draconian Public Order and Security Act (POSA) under the guise of Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill (MOPA) to quell public demonstrations and crush dissent does very little to inspire the confidence terribly needed for Zimbabwe.

As long as there is a dearth of knowledge regarding the link between the economy and an acceptable human rights record, then the country hasn’t even started on the path to recovery.

If the economy is proving too difficult to handle, at least be seen to be upholding the rule of law. It would appear Zimbabwe has some time before a new day arrives.

1 COMMENT

  1. Hapana chawanyora Zuze. Wanyatsotanga zvakanakisisa; ko wazorasika seiko pakudzisira apo, nhai munin’ina Jose?

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