Political/economic upheavals a hindrance to peace- Rights groups

Mlondolozi Ndlovu

The current economic and political turmoil that is affecting the troubled Southern African country is a hindrance to the achievement of peace, Zimbabwe’s rights groups have said as the world commemorates International World Peace Day.

The country is currently facing unprecedented turmoil which is marked by protests, cash shortages and continued government brutality on activists.

Rights groups operating in the land locked southern African country have said, the economic, political crisis is a threat to world peace.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project highlighted how the hunger and failure by the government to pa in the country was hampering peace in the country.

“Most families are struggling to put food on the table for a plethora of reasons; among them not knowing when the next salaries and pensions will be paid and whether or not banks have money to pay out. The discordant messages that people get from authorities also compound the challenges that citizens continue to face thus denying them the enjoyment of peace,” said ZPP in a statement.

The organization whose main mandate is to monitor and report cases that cause instability also added that  families of the victims of state brutality were suffering as their loved ones remain arrested.

“The families of those who are and some who have been victims of enforced disappearance continue to struggle with enjoying peace as they do not know the whereabouts of their loved ones and cannot come to terms with their loved ones having experienced such a heinous crime which is a crime against humanity,” they added.

“A few families come to mind Paul Chizuze, Itai Dzamara and most recently Silvanos Mudzvova who was abducted at gun point, tortured and left for dead. In order to build bridges to peace in this regard the government of Zimbabwe is implored to outlaw enforced disappearances and commit to signing the Convention Against Torture,” they said.

Another human rights groups the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZHLR) noted that it was saddening that as the country joins the rest of the world in commemorating world peace day they were a number of human rights violation which are a cause for concern.

“ Regretably this year, International Day of peace is observed at a time when there is a rapid erosion of fundamental rights and freedoms. Since January 2016, violations of the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, arbitrary arrests and malicious prosecutions have continued unabated,” said ZLHR.

The lawyer’s organization also blamed the harassment of human rights defenders in the country and the destruction of property which has been witnessed in the previous weeks as protests escalate in the country

“ZLHR unreservedly condemns the violent attacks on ordinary citizens and HRDs, the destruction of property during protests. All citizen-state and non-state actors- have the duty to respect, promote and protect all human rights provisions in the constitution, as well as other human rights instruments at the African Union and the United Nations level that Zimbabwe has ratified,” they said.

They urged the government to allow the operationalisation of the NPRC to allow for the country to heal from the previous wounds of injustice.

“The operationalisation of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) remains outstanding three years after the adoption of the constitution. The NPRC is yet to discharge its mandate of preventing conflict and promoting peace, dealing with the past and bring Zimbabweans closer together,” added ZHLR.

“Violence in any form and by any member of our society violates section 52 (a) of the constitution which guarantees freedom from all forms of violence from public and private sources. Violence must be condemned by all law abiding and peace loving citizens of Zimbabwe,” concluded the lawyers group.

Another human rights group ZimRights  said the country’s problems were indeed a threat to peace.

“The country is facing significant threats to peace, constant protests and human rights violations by the police against citizens which should make all stakeholders reflect on the need to stem the escalating tide of conflict that has swept Zimbabwe since June 2016,” they said

ZimRights also agreed that the NPRC must be put in place for the country’s economic tensions.

“ZimRights notes that the increasing levels of poverty and economic collapse, suppression of democratic means of expression available to citizens, lack of electoral reforms and police brutality during peaceful marchers present formidable challenges to peace in Zimbabwe. The absence of the National Peace and Reconciliation commission is keenly felt during the current social tensions and hence ZimRights reiterates the need for operationalisation of the Independent constitutional commission to carry out its  mandate of promoting peace in Zimbabwe,” they said.

They also urged the government to allow for the independence of state institutions.

“The protection, preservation and respect by all political actors at all levels of the independence and unhindered public work of constitutional institutions such as the judiciary and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission which are mandated to uphold justice and fundamental human rights is important in preserving peace,” added ZimRights.

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