The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) joins the rest of Africa in commemorating Africa Day. Africa Day is the annual commemoration on May 25 of the 1963 founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). On
this day, leaders of 30 of the 32 independent African states signed a founding Charter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In 1991, the OAU established the African Economic Community (AEC), and in 2002 the OAU established its own
successor, the African Union (AU). However, the name and date of Africa Day has been retained as a celebration of African unity. For Zimbabwe, this year’s celebrations come at a time when the nation is pursuing national healing and cohesion within the framework of an inclusive government. The inclusive government is not an ideal arrangement, but it stands a good opportunity of bringing about the socio-political transformation that is required to end the economic depravation and democratic deficit that characterized Zimbabwe for the last decade. The Forum concurs with the
notion that the strengthening of this fragile unity must be premised on a common vision, common values, common interests and a strong commitment towards these interests. The consolidation of democracy, the rule of law, good
governance, respect for constitutionalism and the observance of human rights must be integral aspects of such values and commitments.
The Forum maintains that lasting unity can only be achieved through a process of social transformation, acknowledgement of past wrongs, restorative and punitive justice that begins to address the legacy of violence, oppression, intolerance and corruption that had become endemic in our society. Article 7 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) calls upon the new government to consider setting up mechanisms to address the past and bring
about national healing. The Forum therefore calls upon the Government of Zimbabwe to take all necessary measures, administratively and politically, to ensure that the mechanisms are set up in accordance with the provisions of
As we commemorate Africa Day it is important to remind ourselves that Africa has committed herself, through the African Charter, to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms of all peoples. Rights enshrined in the Charter
include the right to life, freedom from torture, the right to health, the right to freedom of expression, the rights of women and children and the right to work, among others. The African human rights system also has a mechanism to
monitor, protect and promote human rights on the continent known as the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights. This body receives and considers complaints against states. In one of the cases brought by the Forum before it, the Commission found the Government of Zimbabwe in violation of Articles 11 and 72 of the Charter. However, in apparent contempt of the Continental Human Rights Body, the Zimbabwean Government has failed to take heed of such findings and recommendations.
Zimbabwe’s inclusive government must be reminded that the African Commission has ruled in one of its decisions that the change of government does not take away the responsibility to rectify and implement its decisions from the state. The state remains bound by its treaty obligations, which must be implemented in good faith. As we commemorate Africa Day, Zimbabwe’s inclusive government must remember that Zimbabwe remains bound by the findings and recommendations of the Fact Finding Mission of the African Commission in 2002, which recommended, among other important issues, that Zimbabwe repeals repressive legislation, reform state institutions and return to the rule of law.
The Forum implores the Government of Zimbabwe to effect the recommendations that have been made by various African institutions, including the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to ensure a return to the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights.