MDC fumes over independent commissions’ silence

THE Nelson Chamisa-led MDC has expressed concern over Zimbabwe’s independent commissions’ alleged silence on the ongoing State-sponsored abductions and torture of opposition and civic society members.

BY SILAS NKALA

These are the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), Zimbabwe Gender Commission, the Zimbabwe Media Commission and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC).

In a statement last week, MDC national secretary for healing, peace and reconciliation, Blessing Chebundo, said the opposition party and citizens were perturbed by the deafening silence of independent commissions as abductions, persecutions and rampant human rights violations continue to escalate against defenceless civilians.

“Since the MDC, on behalf of the people, gave notice to demonstrate on August 16, 2019, against the hardships experienced by the people of Zimbabwe, the country has been engulfed by increasing abductions, torture, and persecutions of opposition and civil society. The people’s crime is raising voices of concern against induced life-threatening hardships,” he said.

“Sequel to the MDC notice to demonstrate, the ZHRC, and the NPRC issued statements acknowledging and ascertaining the democratic rights of the people to ‘peacefully demonstrate against the hardships’.

“Both institutions strongly urged the demonstrators, as well as the State representatives who were making violence-fomenting statements against the peaceful demonstrations, to desist from violating the process.”

Added Chebundo: “To this day, the nation continues to witness daily increases in the number of wanton abductions, torture and persecutions. Yet the independent commissions for human rights and for peace have gone mum-and-dumb. We are surprised and worried by the conspicuous silence by the country’s independent institutions for peace against these continued gross human rights violations.

“The constitutional mandates of these commissions are clearly spelt under Chapter 12 of the supreme law of the land, including the protection and defending of citizens against violation of their rights and protecting the sovereignty and interests of the people while promoting constitutionalism.”

Chebundo said statements by ZHRC chairperson Elasto Hilarious Mugwadi that they could not comment on the on-going alleged abductions because they were still carrying out investigations, were a cause for concern.

“One of the key roles of these commissions is to promote, protect, enforce and prevent. As such, you don’t promote, protect, enforce and prevent retrogressively,” he said.

“Watching and witnessing the abductions, and then issuing condemning statements are not helpful. We are not saying that the interventions by independent peace commissions are the total sum or the panacea to stop the obviously and habitual sponsored human rights violations, but the efforts for timely constitutionally-mandated interventions are critical for both current deterrence, and posterity reference.”

Chebundo said all the independent commissions, including the ZHRC, NPRC, ZMC and Zimbabwe Gender Commission, should be piling pressure to compel the State to stop the abductions, torture, persecutions and many other human rights violations.

“Commissions need to justify their existence by living up to their constitutional mandates without fear or favour. We cannot keep the oxen and then span ourselves to plough,” he said.

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