Today, 18 April 2020, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum), joins the nation of Zimbabwe in celebrating independence from colonial rule. The nation celebrates this historic 40th anniversary under the theme- Defining the decade towards 2020. The Zimbabwe Vision 2030 is a Government commitment to, among other things, facilitate an open market and stable economy through strategies such as the Transitional Stabilization Programme (TSP). Ensuring a second economic environment which promotes development is a pertinent concern at present.

The African Charter on human and Peoples Rights in article 24 states that every person has a right to a generally satisfactory environment favourable for development. Currently, Zimbabwe is facing an economic decline with a high cost of living and unemployment rate facing the nation. The prices of goods and services are beyond the reach of ordinary people whose earnings remain low. In the preliminary findings of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Ms. Hilal Elver, on her official visit to Zimbabwe from 18 – 28 November 2019, the country suffers from a spiraling inflation and chronic shortages of cash flow, essential staple food, clean water, electricity and health services. The Forum urges Government to urgently address the economic challenges that are currently being faced by Zimbabweans. Without a solution to remedy the economic and developmental impasse, Zimbabweans continue to suffer real bread and butter barriers to fully experience independence.

That nation has a bad human rights record characterized by human rights violations such as torture, arbitrary arrests and crackdown on peaceful protests. As at 14 April 2020, the Forum documented 156 cases of assaults of civilians by the state security agents and 12 cases of attacks on journalists in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Forum reminds the Government of Zimbabwe of the values that the Zimbabwean people committed to at independence which are echoed in the preamble of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, 2013 (the Constitution). The commitments are for the Zimbabwean people to be united in diversity be the common desire for freedom, justice, equality and the heroic resistance to colonialism, racism and all forms of domination and oppression. Furthermore, the Zimbabwean people committed to the need for democracy, good, transparent and accountable governance and the rule of law. These are some of the critical foundational values of our independence which if fully complied with by all, independence will be more of a lived reality by every person without discrimination.

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Forum urges every person to take ownership of their personal safety and that of others. Through a united front against COVID-19, together we will celebrate our independence from this dreadful global pandemic. The Forum urges the Government to ensure that every person is protected from the socio-economic challenges that come with the pandemic. This entails promoting access to health care, access to information, access to education, fair labour practices, and access to food, clean portable water and freedom from torture.

Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (HRForum)