The Sunday News
Lincoln Towindo, Harare Bureau
THE United Nations Commission on Human Rights (OHCHR) has commended Government’s drive to entrench human rights and accepted the country’s explanation on the circumstances surrounding the opposition-sponsored post-election violence in August (2018) and January this year.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi met the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet Jeria — the former president of Chile — during the 40th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, recently. The UN Human Rights Council is set to dispatch special rapporteurs to Zimbabwe on an assessment tour.
“She encouraged us to keep promoting human rights and our efforts on social and economic rights . . . She also received our report and appreciated what we were saying and she encouraged us to continue, particularly on the path of dialogue that the President initiated. She was very receptive and our issues were well-received by her and she encouraged us to continue in the path we are walking,” he said.
Government also managed to apprise the commission on the gratuitous violence rolled out by protesters during the January 14, 15 and 16 demonstrations, which prompted overwhelmed law-enforcement authorities to rope in the military to assist.
The demonstrations, which cost the country more than $500 million in unrealised business and destruction to property, also led to the loss of life. The protests were reportedly pre-planned by militant elements and co-ordinated by foreign agents that intended to besmirch the country’s image and reputation.
Minister Ziyambi said: “We explained the background to all these events; most importantly, the violence that happened in August as well as in January. We specifically brought out how the demonstrators violated the rights of innocent people who were going about their day-to-day business. We explained how the voices of the protesters have been magnified, while the voices of the victims of the riots, including shop owners who lost their property and others who lost their relatives, have not been heard.”
African countries, Minister Ziyambi said, rallied around Zimbabwe and called for the unconditional removal of sanctions, which are blighting the country’s economic recovery prospects.
“The African group received our report very well to the extent that when Namibia, South Africa and Egypt presented their reports, they also highlighted these points and spoke on our behalf on the need to remove sanctions. We also spoke about our economic turnaround programmes, including the Transitional Stabilisation Programme. We also highlighted that sanctions were a human rights issue hindering the success of that programme,” he said.
The Zimbabwean delegation also met with International Labour Organisation (ILO) director-general Mr Guy Ryder, who was briefed on circumstances that led to the arrest of Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) president Japhet Moyo. Government, Minister Ziyambi said, explained to Mr Ryder that it will follow due process as the matter is now before the courts.