Less than 24 hours remain before our country proceeds to what are arguably the most significant elections since the polls that ushered in independence, freedom and a new and long fought-for era of respect for human dignity and the right to “One Man and Woman, One Vote”. The curtains are coming down on a five-year Global Political Agreement (GPA) that, to a large extent, restored some sense of economic and political stability and through which political parties in Parliament, under the watchful eye of SADC and AU, undertook to facilitate reforms and an environment conducive to a credible, free and fair election in which the will of the people would be respected.
We must not lose sight of where we have come from – an environment of life-threatening shortages of food, health care, and functional education facilities, where the most vulnerable in our society lost their lives, homes and livelihoods due to the lack of social and economic justice, as well as intolerance of diverse political views, manifested in grave human rights violations, ravaged state institutions and ever-escalating impunity.
Whilst we must be ever-conscious of our difficult past, however, we owe it to ourselves and future generations to ensure that we constantly strive to improve our political environment, strengthen our state institutions and hold them accountable, and facilitate processes that instill in the Zimbabwean public the confidence that any person, without discrimination, can participate in the governance of their country without fear of violence, without the threat of retribution for what they express and who they support, without unjustifiable barriers to their right to elect representatives of their choice, and with confidence that state institutions will display integrity and professionalism in allowing the will of the people to be heard and respected.
It is within this framework that Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has sought to undertake its mandate of upholding respect for the rule of law and the unimpeded administration of justice, free and fair elections and the protection of constitutional rights and freedoms in the pre-election period, and we express ourselves as follows (with more detail to be found in the main pre-election report): Read moreZLHR Pre-Election 2013 Statement