African Commission to discuss Zimbabwe human rights report

Vincent Kahiya

THE draft report of the fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights will be discussed at the commission’s 34th session in Banjul, Gambia, next month

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A special team of the commission, led by Jainaba Johm of Gambia, prepared the report on Zimbabwe after a fact-finding visit in June last year. The team came to Zimbabwe after a request was sent to the commission by the Human Rights Forum in 2001.


The delegation met with opposi-tion Movement for Democratic Cha-nge officials, president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe Sternford Moyo, police commissioner Augu-stine Chihuri and civic society heads.


It also met Vice-President Joseph Msika, Speaker of Parliament Em-merson Mnangagwa, Zanu PF national chairman John Nkomo and Information minister Jonathan Moyo.


At the end of the visit, Johm said her team had accumulated 20kg of documents from evidence given by many people regarding the human rights situation in the country.


A draft agenda of the 34th session includes Zimbabwe under item 11 and delegates will discuss the draft report and decide whether to adopt it.

Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa on Tuesday said government would send a delegation to Banjul to present the country’s case.


“I have already signed cabinet authority for a three-member delegation to represent Zimbabwe and put across our case,” said Chinamasa.


He said the permanent secretary in his ministry David Mangota would lead the team.


Civic society organisations are also expected to send a team of human rights lawyers to Banjul to defend the communication sent to the commissioners in 2001.


Reports on Zimbabwe’s human rights record by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been rejected by African states who accuse the two of Western bias.


Analysts have said a negative report from the commission would be damaging for Zimbabwe ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) in Abuja in December.


In August, the Zimbabwe Independent reported that the report should have been released at the 33rd session of the commission in Niamey, Niger, in May but the commissioners claimed there was not enough time to consider it.


There were fears among local civic society organisations that African leaders wanted to suppress the report in order not to dent the image of President Robert Mugabe ahead of the Chogm meeting.