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Letters to the editor

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African constitutionalism on deathbed

That said, the election date will first be gazetted in terms of the law then the IEC will have to approach the Constitutional Court which will have a final say if at all elections must be postponed. It was also said the elections could not be postponed before they are even gazetted.

Juxtapose that with our situation back home. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was meant to conduct by-elections in several constituencies after several seats fell vacant, but the spineless body just kowtowed to the Executive when it was ordered to stop holding by-elections without reason under the guise of curbing the spread of the pandemic. Hon Criss

ZHRC speaks on COVID-19 vaccination roll out programme

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission continues to monitor the protection, promotion and enjoyment of human rights in the context of the ravaging new COVID-19 strain and acknowledges efforts by government to contain the spread of the virus through various restrictive measures.

As such, it is the obligation of duty bearers to ensure that its citizens are protected especially during public health emergencies. The ZHRC commends government for the COVID-19 vaccination roll out programme which was initially met with resistance in some quarters but has gradually been embraced by the generality of citizens and commended by the World Health Organisation as a well-co-ordinated programme.

The commission acknowledges the initiative of testing and vaccinating frontline workers. However, a number of media platforms have raised concern over corporations that are coercing employees to undergo vaccination, disregarding the employees’ freedom of choice, integrity of the person, right to dignity and existence of underlying medical conditions. Some public institutions and private companies are allegedly denying unvaccinated employees access to their workstations and others are having their salaries deducted.

While the ZHRC is aware that vaccination is for the general protection of the individual’s rights to health and life, government is urged to continue encouraging citizens to consider being vaccinated since vaccination is both a personal and national responsibility for the protection of personal health as well as the health of others. It is the duty of government to balance the need for increased vaccination in order to reach herd immunity with freedom of choice.

Government has taken a commendable policy position to allow free choice by individuals with regards to uptake of the COVID-19 vaccines. It is, therefore, important for all stakeholders to avoid any coercive measures that directly or indirectly compel people to get vaccinated against their choice.

It is important to be guided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) guiding principles which posit that vaccination programmes must not be made compulsory but should be a matter of choice.

The ZHRC is concerned about the non-accessibility of the vaccines in some areas and urges that efforts be made to ensure that vaccines are availed within close proximity of the populace especially in remote rural areas. ZHRC

Cyber Security Bill critical for exercise and enjoyment of human rights

MISA Zimbabwe by virtue of this letter humbly highlights and expresses our concern on developments arising from the recommittal of the Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill to the Senate.

It is our humble submission that this development is undoubtedly of national significance and interest which deserves your esteemed attention and all the necessary due processes in line with the constitutional role and obligations of the Parliament of Zimbabwe.

The Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill which was gazetted in May 2020 and subjected to public hearings in July 2020, has now been recommitted to Senate following its passing in the National Assembly.

This recommittal is a clear indication that there are significant errors that have been noted necessitating substantive amendments to the Bill.

Our position, through this petition for purposes of fostering and entrenching Zimbabwe’s constitutional democracy, is informed by the following reasons:

Following the public hearings in July 2020, a Parliamentary Committee report was produced, which proposed recommendations as collected and compiled from the public consultations carried out.

These recommendations should have informed and guided the changes made to this Bill. If significant changes outside the proposed recommendations have been further made, resulting in a substantive deviation from the original Bill, it is only reasonable, necessary and justifiable that the Bill, in its current state, be subjected to public hearings.

We, therefore, appeal to you Honourable Speaker, the clerk of Parliament and chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Information and Communication Technology, Courier and Postal Services, by virtue of the authority vested in you, to again subject the Bill to scrutiny by the people in the spirit of promoting, respecting and upholding the tenets of democracy.

The Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill is a key piece of legislation as it impacts the social, political and economic landscape of Zimbabwe.

A strong cyber security and data protection framework is critical for the exercise and enjoyment of human rights, trade, increased investments and Zimbabwe’s socio-economic development.

Golden Maunganidze Misa chairperson

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