Heroes’ Day in Zimbabwe is supposed to be a special day to celebrate the country’s heroes for the sacrifices they made to liberate this country with the hope of ensuring that the majority enjoy human rights and are treated with dignity.

Today, this day comes when the country is experiencing one of its worst human rights crises in decades.Not that Zimbabwe’s problems started today.The country has had phases of human rights violations, mostly perpetrated by the State, and all these have not been resolved.In other words, the country has a long-standing need for a comprehensive, integrated and inclusive process for well meaning healing.

So, as envoys appointed by South African president Cyril Ramaphosa come into the country, ZPP welcomes the initiative and wishes to state the following:It is true that indeed, in recent weeks human rights actors, political activists and the general citizens have been subjected to arbitrary arrests, abductions and torture for merely expressing discontent with how government is running the affairs of the State. The State has flagrantly violated the rights of some of the detained, like journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and political leader Jacob Ngarivhume, as well as human rights activist Godfrey Kurauone. After being transferred to a maximum security prison, Chino’ono and Ngarivhume were denied confidential access to their lawyers as prescribed by the law. The two were also denied access to special food, which they need based on their dietary requirements. The ruling party, Zanu PF has incited violence through its acting spokesperson, Patrick Chinamasa. Being the ruling party and having control of the State security apparatus, Chinamasa virtually declared war against citizens and non supporters of Zanu PF.

During the past four months, ZPP, through its wide, national network of human rights monitors, has recorded a worrying trend, where the State security agents, mainly the police and the soldiers, have been the major perpetrators of human rights violations. During the month of July alone, ZPP recorded 48 cases of unlawful detention, 68 cases of assault and 168 cases of harassment and intimidation, 15 cases of abduction and torture, with the majority of these being attributable to state security agents. The State security agents contributed to a combined 80.66 percent of all human rights violations this month .

The state security agents have used the Covid-19 lockdown period to stifle basic human rights.

The health delivery infrastructure is so dilapidated that “unborn children and mothers are dying daily.” In one case in July, seven out of eight babies suffered stillbirths in one night at Harare Hospital. The World Food Program has projected that the number of Zimbabweans facing food insecurity could reach 8.6 million by the end of the year and that is estimated to be 60 percent of the population. Inflation has remained high, at over 786 percent. Zimbabwe is now considered one of the four most food-insecure countries in the world, alongside Yemen, Somalia and South Sudan. In light of all this, it is clear that Zimbabwe is a nation in dire need of being brought together for an inclusive approach to solving all these problems.

ZPP therefore recommends that as the SA envoys do their work, they must consider the following:Approach the Zimbabwean problem as not an internal Zanu PF issue, but realise that the entire country is suffering, and requires a break from human rights violations and the economic meltdown, which in itself has become a human rights issueInclusivity is key. It would be important for the envoys to take an inclusive approach when they consult stakeholders. While the politics is among the major problems, it is just a part of a list of Zimbabwe’s long-standing problems. It is therefore crucial that the envoys consult the civil society, church, other political players, the media, business and industry.We at least ask that they implore the government to put an end to human rights violations that include arbitrary and politically motivated arrests, abductions, harassment and intimidation and stifling of freedoms of expression and affiliation. Perpetrators of these should also be brought to book. It is only when the State stops preying on its people that the country can begin to find a real, permanent solution.

We also urge the government to realise that this is an opportunity for the beginning of an end to the crisis in Zimbabwe and that this should not be reduced to a political mudslinging that can only take the country into further abyss.As ZPP, we will continue to insist that Zimbabwe’s solution lies in the end to this terror, and the realisation by government that they are there to serve the interests of Zimbabweans.

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