Statement on the International Day of Peace

Source: 20 September 2019Democracy, Human Rights

Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Day of Peace. The commemorations for this year are running under the theme, “Climate Action for Peace.” The theme underscores the importance of collective action in combating climate change as a way to build and promote peace.

The ever unpredictable climatic conditions across the world have resulted in natural disasters which have led to the displacement of people and food insecurity among communities. This has posed a serious threat to food security leading to competition for available resources such as water sources among others. This has further fuelled conflicts among people leading to conflicts and in most cases open violence.

For Zimbabwe however, the occasion for international day of peace are taking place against a background where enforced disappearances of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) are a new repressive tool threatening the prevalence of peace. During the January 2019 demonstrations, the state used abductions as a tool meant silence and target activists. More recently, on the eve of the 16 August 2019 Movement for Democratic (MDC) Alliance demonstrations, Citizens Manifesto coordinator, Tatenda Mombeyarara and Blessing Kanotunga, the MDC Youth Chairperson for Mufakose District were abducted by unknown assailants. In the subsequent days that followed, several MDC Alliance activists were abducted across the country as well as comedian, Samantha Kureya. On 14 September 2019, Dr Peter Magombeyi, the president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) was allegedly abducted from his home in Budiriro.These series of targeted abductions add to a long list of hurdles standing in the way of peace such as intolerance and political labeling. The lack of confidence by citizens in the state to promote peace has created a fearful citizen who is afraid to make positive contributions towards peace. Added to this, the economic crisis that Government seems reluctant to address has potential of plunging the country into a wave of uncertainty and turmoil. It is Heal Zimbabwe’s view that the state must demonstrate its willingness to promote peace by ensuring that fundamental human rights and freedoms such as the right to personal enshrined in Section 52 are upheld.

Article 5 of the African (Banjul) Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights highlight that, “Every individual shall have the right to the respect of the dignity inherent in a human being and to the recognition of his legal status. All forms of exploitation and degradation of man particularly slavery, slave trade, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment shall be prohibited”. Such a provision compels member states like Zimbabwe to cultivate a culture of upholding the fundamental human rights and freedoms such as freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Chapter 232 of the constitution of Zimbabwe establishes Independent Commissions particularly the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) whose mandate as enunciated in Section 252 (b) is to “develop and implement programmes to promote national healing, unity and cohesion in Zimbabwe and the peaceful resolution of disputes”.

On the occasion of the International Day of Peace, Heal Zimbabwe implores the NPRC to urgently outline a clear plan of action with clear timelines on reconciliation and healing steps. Added to this, the NPRC must swiftly move in to tackle contentious reconciliation issues such as Gukurahundi in compliance with Section 252 (c) of the constitution that stipulates that the NPRC must “bring about national reconciliation by encouraging people to tell the truth about the past and facilitating the making of amends and the provision of justice”.

Source: Heal Zimbabwe