The latest research from the Mass Public Opinion Institute makes for depressing, if unsurprising reading. In Zimbabwe Post-2013 Elections: A Retreat into Public Despair?, MPOI finds that  63% of Zimbabweans think the country is going in the wrong direction, whilst only 31% thinks it’s going in the right direction.

Among the negative assessments of Zimbabwe, respondents complained of corruption, price increases, and politicians’ empty promises.

According to MPOI:

“Unemployment was another key reason given by FGD participants to account for why things have turned worse since the GNU days. The participants  bemoaned the fact that many people have lost jobs as many businesses continue to struggle and even close under the difficult environment. For some participants, there was in fact no difference between those employed and the jobless.”

Other comments included:

“I am not happy because we used to get some money when we engaged in business but right now we can’t get the money because most of the companies have closed down operations plus there are no jobs.  So all of us are now vendors and there is now stiff competition. Money is not there.” (Manicaland Female)

“I can give an example of those who are into trading; things were better in 2012, the business would generate money but right now instead of concentrating on selling; one will be busy running; it’s either one is fleeing away from the ZRP or council officials. So life has become somehow difficult and even those who are working are getting it tough.” (Midlands Female)

“Life of workers under the Inclusive Government was better because they would get their money on time, and the money was also better compared to today.” (Midlands Male)

“During the era of the GNU I thought there was a lot of hope for the better. We the educated folk we could see the possibility of investing for those who wanted to invest… ” (Manicaland Male)

Download the full report here

So … Mugabe and Co, where is our water?

“The right to water is adequately protected in the Zimbabwean Constitution and in statute law.  It is up to the government and the local authorities to give practical affect to the basis human right to water.”
- Veritas

Key recommendations from a new Lancet report:

Get serious about HIV prevention—including combination prevention—and continue the expansion of access to treatment, while also working to address structural determinants of health that put people at risk

Forge new paths to uphold human rights and address criminalisation, stigma, and discrimination using practical approaches to change laws, policies, and public attitudes that violate human rights

Urgently ramp up and fully fund AIDS efforts efficiently, and emphasise sustainability; the next 5 years present a window of opportunity to scale up the AIDS response to end AIDS as a public health problem by 2030; failing to do so, and to continue the already significant efforts, will increase the number of deaths and new HIV infections by 2020

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Demand robust accountability, transparency, and better data; this relies on fresh processes and mechanisms to enable more transparent data review, improve research on high-risk populations, and link data to policies and programmes

Reinforce and renew the leadership and engagement of people living with HIV, strengthening and expanding their decision-making roles in policy design, implementation, and evaluation, and invest in activism as a global public good

Invest in research and innovation in all facets of the AIDS response; an effective vaccine and a cure remain priorities, and others include epidemiological studies of high-risk populations and hot spots, socio-behavioural research, implementation research, and country-specific research on how services are delivered across health care

Promote more inclusive, coherent, and accountable AIDS and health governance; establish a multi-stakeholder, multi-sector platform to address determinants of health

Read the report: https://knowledge-gateway.org/?bzcp62m9

A press release from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights:

On International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) joins the rest of the world in condemning the continued systematic and widespread use of torture on innocent citizens and stands in solidarity with all victims of this heinous crime. Commemorated on 26 June 2015 under the theme “Right to Rehabilitation (R2R)”, the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture gives us the opportunity to stand united and remind the world that torture is a grave violation of fundamental human rights. As the theme suggests, it is imperative to ensure that many torture survivors have access to the rehabilitation they deserve and have a right to. ZLHR has noted that Zimbabwe’s new Constitution adopted in May 2013 contains some progressive provisions particularly section 53 that guarantees freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and section 51 on the right to human dignity. However, it is regrettable, that citizens and human rights defenders continue to be subjected to flagrant violations of their fundamental rights by State and non-State actors. Arbitrary arrest, torture, abduction and detention of human rights defenders remain common. More disconcerting is that Zimbabwe is marking United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, which is an important day on the human rights calendar at a time when one of its citizens, Itai Dzamara, a pro-democracy activist and freelance journalist is missing after he was disappeared by some unidentified people in on 09 March 2015. So traumatising is the painful reality that the government and all the powerful State security organs cannot account for the whereabouts of Dzamara, almost four months after he was disappeared. The situation of Dzamara is not only disheartening, but shocking as he remains unaccounted for, more than 100 days after he was disappeared. Perpetrators of torture must understand that abduction and torture are an outdated, inhumane, and ultimately ineffective practice that ruins the lives of innocent people. Despite the gloom situation of the continued use of torture and enforced disappearances, ZLHR is encouraged by the results of its anti-impunity campaign, which has in recent months led to judicial officers awarding damages to victims of torture with perpetrators complying with such judgments. As an organization committed to foster a culture of human rights in Zimbabwe, ZLHR will continue confronting perpetrators of torture through litigation to end this barbaric practice. In conclusion, ZLHR urges the government to ratify, domesticate and implement provisions of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its Protocol and the United Nations Convention on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances. - Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

No to urban toll gates

Harare Metropolitan Residents Forum (HAMREF) statement on urban tolling in Zimbabwe

The Harare Metropolitan Residents Forum (HAMREF) is opposed to the proposal that has been put forward by the Ministry of Transport to introduce Urban Tolling in Zimbabwe. The proposals were carried in the Herald publications released on the 19th of May and 16 June 2015. Whilst the concept is not novel as it has been implemented in several countries, for example our neighbours across the Limpopo is a recent example, the case of Zimbabwe exposes a casual knee jerk approach to policy formulation.

In Zimbabwe’s case and as articulated by the Minister the primary motive of introducing urban tolling is to fund the rehabilitation of the road network within urban areas. This however, is problematic in various ways. Firstly, motorists are already paying money to ZINARA and the money collected is still to be accounted for. The Minister should recall that before ZINARA was mandated to collect the money, the motor vehicle licence taxes were paid to the local authority in which the vehicle was licenced. This was based on the logical assumption that the money will be mainly used to service the road network the motorists will be using. On many occasions the Mayor of Harare, Ben Manyenyeni has claimed that maintaining and fixing the Harare road network is going to be difficult since ZINARA is not remitting money to Harare City Council. In any case the City of Harare has claimed that they have lost potential revenue to the tune of USD 7,5million a year. One wonders the rational of the government agency to collect the money, especially given the fact that those using the national highways are required to pay tolling fees. If ZINARA is to continue collecting these licence fees isn’t it justified that they should also be mandated to maintain the entire road network including those within urban areas. This however, is retrogressive as it takes away the provisions of Chapter 14 of the new constitution which promotes local development through a devolved government. The money that government is seeking to collect to refurbishing roads is already being collected and this policy will lead to double taxing.

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An attempt to justify the policy by pointing the successful implementation of the same policy in other cities in Europe further exposes the casual knee jerk approach in policy formulation by the Harare government.  Urban tolling in all of these cities is a part of a robust strategy for demand management, reduction of greenhouse gases. What the Minister misses is that urban tolling should not be viewed in isolation but as a component of these strategies. In all these cities there are reliable, efficient public transport systems which is a vital component of these strategies. In all urban areas across the country there is no viable public transport systems which should and exists in the countries which uses the same justifications.

In addition the issue of greenhouse gas emissions reductions are localised and owned by the people in all of these cities which is not the case in Zimbabwe. Before introducing this policy there is need to first engage with local authorities so that efficient and viable public transport as well as localising the reduction of greenhouse emissions within Zimbabwe. Surely the government should not simply collect revenue simply because there is an opportunity (high traffic volumes). Recently we heard of proposed wages cuts to the already underpaid workers base whose majority earns below the poverty datum line. Where will these motorists get the money to pay for the extra costs associated with these urban toll gates? For the Minister to suggest that there are people who drive  into city centres for no apparent reasons makes one wonder from which world does this Minister come from. No to urban toll gates, at least for now!

For Comments:

Simbarashe Moyo (Chairperson, HAMREF) – 0772 864 572

Mfundo Mlilo (Director – CHRA) – 0772 127 397

Zimbabwe’s constitution

If you had faith in Zimbabwe’s new constitution think again. Here’s a critique from the Committee of the Peoples Charter:

The Elitist Character of Zimbabwe’s New Constitution and Understanding Our Undemocratic Contemporary Political Order

The legal reality that is Zimbabwe’s new constitution, in the two years that is has existed, was never intended as the ushering in of a new democratic era for the country. This is despite the controversial constitutional outreach and eventual referendum that saw 3 million people voting in favour and 178 489 voting against the supreme legal document of the country.

Since its promulgation into law following presidential assent on 22 May 2013 and its established framework for the holding of harmonised elections on 31 July of the same year, the new constitution has taken on its true character of being an incremental, elitist and political power-seeking document.

This is evidenced not only by its transitional clauses in relation to executive authority, but also the fact that it has not resulted in any significant democratic shift in the way in which the people of Zimbabwe are governed.

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What it has unfortunately led to is a continuation of the concentration of power in the hands of executive, an expansion of the institutional reach of the same through guided devolution and decentralization of the state, a default bill of rights that depends on state benevolence for it to be justiciable and a parliament that serves more as a distribution of state largess than it does democratic oversight of the executive.

But perhaps the most critically disparaging aspect of the new constitution is less its incrementalist content and more its elite functionalism without any indications of it being structured to deliver a new people driven democratic culture.

The signs of the latter are to be found in the already announced intention to amend it by the ruling Zanu PF party. Not that a constitution cannot be amended, but to change them so soon after a national referendum betrays the actual character of the document as one of political expediency as opposed to organic entrenchment of democratic values and principles.

It is within this context that the new constitution cannot be viewed as people driven, democratic or a final document that will best serve posterity. This is argued because of the following key reasons:

a) The new constitution was a political party compromise document that was negotiated during the tenure of the inclusive government. This fact is perhaps what most cripples the new constitution. Being devoid of the key political element of being established for posterity and undermined by the political expediency that was the inclusive government, it becomes a document that remains relevant largely to those that at any one given point yield state power, over and above any organic social democratic meaning to the citizens of the country.

b) The national referendum that preceded its promulgation was politicised to the extent of being a dress rehearsal for the subsequent June 2013 harmonised elections. It was therefore not just a referendum in the broadest possible understanding of the term but a cajoling of the Zimbabwean people to accept that which the political elite had deemed to be correct. To this extent a great number of Zimbabweans still do not know let alone comprehend the full import of the new constitution. This is a reality that underpins the fact of the elitist nature of the constitution, despite claims by the then inclusive government that it was derived from a people driven process.

c) The aftermath of both the referendum and the enactment of the new constitution have been characterized by general government nonchalance as to the establishment of subsidiary enabling legislation. This is largely due to not only an evident lack of political will but the general disdain and disregard that the government has toward its own elite document. A disdain that stems from the fact that the new constitution is viewed as utilitarian only where and when and concerns power and the distribution of state largesse as opposed to the advancement of ingrained democratic values into our political system and culture. That this can occur so soon after the supreme law came into effect demonstrates its clear disjuncture from the lived realities of the people.

It is therefore imperative that the new constitution be placed into its full political context so we come to an understanding as to its full import.

Such context would best be encapsulated in the following points:

a) The new constitution, given the undemocratic and inorganic manner of its genesis cannot be viewed as a document that is indicative of national democratic arrival. The search for a new democratic, people driven constitution for Zimbabwe is still a journey that must be embarked on in a manner that includes but is not limited to political parties in government as is the current case.

b) That while the new constitution is a legal reality that cannot be avoided, all Zimbabweans must remain cognizant of its fundamental democratic inadequacies. Even if they were to get piecemeal changes via some of its clauses, these gains would remain a far off the mark with regard to the truly social democratic society that all Zimbabweans regardless of age, race, colour, gender and class deserve.

And lastly that in its legal reality, the new constitution, is not the panacea to our past, current and future problems with authoritarian rule or cosmetic and pretentious democratic governance. All Zimbabweans need to continue their search and conscious struggle for a social democratic society despite claims by political party leaders to a false narrative of arrival. This must be done with full knowledge of our past mistakes as a country and for posterity.

Committee of the Peoples Charter: Think / Act / Lead

Undemocratic Zimbabwe

According to an article published by New Zimbabwe, “Police in Bindura, on Tuesday blocked an anti-child marriage march organised by the Institute for Young Women Development (IYWD) despite having earlier given them a go ahead. The organisation had intended to march from the Bindura bus terminus through the Central Business District and end by handing over a petition to the Bindura Provincial Magistrate Courts.”

Check out the order citing required conditions, issued by the police giving IYWD the go ahead. Curiously, just about everything mentioned makes me think of the activities Zanu PF engages in during their election campaigns.

iywd_bindura_1506

Policy Dialogue Meeting

The Ethics and Accountability Forum (EAF) of Transparency International Zimbabwe (TI Z) has the pleasure of inviting you to attend a policy dialogue to be held on:

Thursday 25 June 2015
At Sapes Trust (4 Deary Avenue, Belgravia, Harare)
From 17:00hrs – 19:00hrs

The topic for discussion will be:

“The Annual State of Corruption Report: Focus on State Owned Enterprises”

Speakers
Mukasiri Sibanda is a project officer responsible for governance work for Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) / Takura Zhangazha is the former director of Misa and Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ). He is a political scientist from the University of Zimbabwe. He is a social, political and media blogger / Dr Simba Makoni is the founder of Mavambo Kusile Dawn Political Party and is a former cabinet minister and former Minister of Finance. Dr Simba Makoni also served as the Senior Africa Development Community (SADC) Executive Secretary between 1983 and 1993″.

The 2014 Annual State of Corruption Report (ASCR) is a focus on State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and it was precipitated by the fact that (as many of us recall) the governance of SOEs in Zimbabwe has been characterized by problems of transparency and accountability and loss making. The study comprehensively analyses the underlying factors that impede SOEs from performing well. Factors such as bad corporate governance and unethical conduct of business, militarisation of SOEs, and poor institutional, legal and governance framework among other factors were found out to be propelling the lack of transparency and accountability. In light of the above-mentioned report, the objective of the dialogue is to provide a platform for a genuine discussion around transparency and public accountability in State Owned Enterprises. It is anticipated that after the discussion, participants will be informed about the 2014 Annual State of Corruption Report and the importance of transparency and accountability in SOEs. It is also anticipated that the panel of speakers and the participants will share insights of how the shortfalls reflected in the report can be addressed. The meeting will therefore assist in unpacking the topic and also pave the way for solutions towards upholding the tenants of transparency, accountability and good governance in State Enterprises in Zimbabwe.

Your attendance and participation at this meeting would be greatly appreciated. Feel free to attend and/ or second other members of your organisation as well. Kindly confirm your participation by contacting: Nancy Gweshe: +263 4 793246-7