UN spotlights Mat'land marginalisation

United Nations

UNITED Nations (UN) experts on the Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) have criticised systematic marginalisation of Matabeleland and called on government to equally treat all regions.

They made the call in a report released on August 26 after a periodic review meeting held on August 17 and 18 in Geneva.

Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi led the government delegation.

In their report and recommendations, the UN experts called out President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government for institutionalising marginalisation of Matabeleland.

“The committee is concerned by reports that the lack of representation of Ndebele speakers in positions of power in the government has contributed to the marginalisation with respect to social and economic development assistance in regions traditionally associated with Ndebele speakers,” the UN experts said.

“The committee recommends that the State party take measures to ensure fair and equitable representation of all ethno-linguistic groups in political life and decision-making bodies at all levels including in government, Parliament and at the regional level and including the civil service. Additionally, the committee recommends that government ensures that civil servants are prepared to render services in the languages of those they serve in each region of the country.”

Poor infrastructure and lack of opportunities for people in the region have long been cited by critics as proof of Matabeleland’s marginalisation.

In April, Information ministry permanent secretary Nick Mangwana, however, said Mnangagwa’s administration was addressing inequality and marginalisation as envisioned in its mantra “leave no one or no place behind”.

But critics such as the Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) are not convinced and are now calling for secession.

The UN experts also complained that the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) was failing to fulfil its mandate and suffering government interference.

“The committee is concerned that the ZHRC is not fully independent, in particular because prior government approval is required for it to receive donor funding because it is required to submit its reports to Parliament through the Executive, and due to lack of a clear, transparent and participatory selection process,” UN said.

“The committee recommends that the State party ensures the independence of the ZHRC in compliance with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (The Paris Principles) by formulating and applying a clear, transparent and participatory selection and appointment process for all members of the commission by providing the commission with the explicit power to submit its reports directly to Parliament and by guaranteeing that the commission can receive donor funding without prior government approval.”

The ZHRC is one of the national commissions established under the Constitution, and is mandated to protect, promote and enforce human rights.

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