Honorable Chairperson, Commissioners, the Secretary of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights and invited guests, the human rights situation in Zimbabwe remains fragile despite the signing of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and the subsequent creation of the Unity Government in February 2009. Following the completion of the first year after the signing of the GPA in Zimbabwe, political discrimination, intimidation and victimization remain a major concern as violence across the political divide continues. MDC supporters and human rights activists remain exposed to the abuses by government agents, who despite the creation of the inclusive government remain predisposed to using violent means to protect the interests of the ruling elite.
The detention and deportation of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the 29 October 2009, together with other incidences such as the arrest and detention of National Association of Non Governmental Organisations Board Chairperson Dadirai Chikwengo and Chief Executive Officer Cephas Zinhumwe on Sunday, 25 October 2009; the continued persecution and prosecution of human rights defenders such as Alec Muchadehama; the arrest of Zimbabwe Election Support Network staff members in Hwange and the recurrence of cases of enforced disappearances are all worrying signs that ZANU (PF) is reverting to its culture of human rights abuse. These incidents and others are reminiscent of the reign of terror that characterised 2008. Of particular concern are increasing reports coming out of the communities that people are being mobilised in a manner similar to the run-up to the 2008 elections. The Forum is
concerned that the infrastructure of violence remains intact and nothing is being done to reform state institutions. We also continue to witness the use of repressive legislation to curtail civil liberties. Several activists have been arrested in past months under the notorious Public Order and Security Act (POSA). Recently on 8 November 2009, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) President Lovemore Matombo and four members of his staff, Michael Kandukutu, Dumisani Ncube, Nawu Ndlovu and Percy Mcijo were arrest in the Victoria Falls District for addressing their members.
Access to information, the freedom of expression and assembly remain heavily restricted. The state run media continues to use disparaging language to describe the MDC and civil society. Recently there has been an increase in the number of direct attacks by senior members of the government against civil society that have been reported in the press.
The Government of Zimbabwe remarkably declared that the SADC tribunal ruling on the illegality of farm seizures in Zimbabwe is of no force and effect. This stance was later buttressed by the purported withdrawal by the Government of Zimbabwe from the jurisdiction of SADC Tribunal. The Government resorted to its domestic law to escape its international obligations and as a result property rights remain under siege. It is of concern that the violation of property rights still possesses racial underpinnings. The Human Rights Forum calls upon the ACHPR to urge the government to respect all human rights and the rule of law. Further the ACHPR to condemn the conduct by the Government of Zimbabwe in deporting the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Professor Manfred Nowak had been invited by the government to conduct an official fact finding mission.