HomeLettersThe voice of the people should not be silenced

The voice of the people should not be silenced

RESTORATION of Human Rights (ROHR) Zimbabwe is greatly dismayed by the uncomplimentary behaviour exhibited by the state through its law enforcement arm, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) in denying the general public the right to assemble and associate freely over the envisaged constitution consultation outreach programme.

It is of great concern that more than 70 political and human rights activists have been arbitrarily arrested over what the police is alleging are “unsanctioned  meetings’’.
We also note that the continued existence of prohibitive legislation like the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) and Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) is an anathema to the much needed conducive environment in which the citizenry can assemble, associate and express themselves freely towards the writing of a constitution that will reflect the aspirations of the people.
The recent arbitrary arrests by the police show not only a disregard of the law but are tantamount to derailing the constitutional outreach programme by sending alarm signals among the citizenry on its role in the process.
We further challenge the ZRP to act professionally in executing its duties in line with the international human rights standards (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights) in dealing with the citizenry during the duration of the constitutional outreach programme.
Cognisant of the fact that the continued existence of draconian laws like Posa and Aippa will only yield a flawed constitutional outreach programme, it is pertinent that the coalition government considers legal reforms that will promote a more enabling environment to encourage the free participation and security of participants without fear of intimidation, persecution or victimisation ahead of the constitution outreach programme set to begin soon.
Given the long-documented legacy of the abuse of state machinery by Zanu PF party in its relentless efforts to harass political and human rights activists, we strongly urge the other partners in the coalition government to take a principled position to ensure that ZRP will not be complicit in Zanu PF’s agenda to coerce the citizenry to adopt the undemocratic Kariba Draft constitution which gives too much executive powers to a president with unlimited terms of office among other serious shortcomings.
Understanding that the constitution-making process is an opportune moment for Zimbabweans to define their God-given, social, economic, civil and political rights into a supreme law that will guide elected leaders with the responsibility to rule and govern the country, it is critical to ensure that the voice of the people is not lost or swayed to suit narrow egocentric partisan agendas.

Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe,
rohrzimbabwe@gmail.com

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