Tichaona Zindoga and Samantha Chipoyera
International human rights group, Amnesty International, is courting the new administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa to work together in improving Zimbabwe’s human rights record.
Amnesty International, which investigates and exposes rights abuses, is encouraged by President Mnangagwa’s reform agenda and openness to engage on major human rights issues, including doing away with the death penalty.
On Wednesday, Amnesty launched its worldwide report for 2017, which found out that Zimbabwe’s civil and political rights record under the previous administration was poor, in addition to economic instability, drought, high poverty levels and unemployment that affected social and economic rights.
Speaking to our Harare Bureau, the executive director of Amnesty International Zimbabwe Mr Cousin Zilala said they were engaging Government on rights issues.
“We are looking for opportunities to engage the Government and if they are willing to engage us we would like to discuss the issue of human rights, especially on freedom of expression and freedom of association,” he said.
“We are sending appointments to the President, Government and ministers.”
Mr Zilala said President Mnangagwa’s stance against the death penalty provided an opening for engaging Government.
“We have been advocating for the abolition of death penalty for 40 years now and we once engaged the current President when he was still the Minister of Justice and he was for the idea that the death penalty should be abolished,” said Mr Zilala.
The human rights watchdog warned against violence in the upcoming election season and condemned intra-party violence that has been witnessed in the opposition MDC-T party.
“Violence is a violation of human rights and as Amnesty International we condemn it,” said Mr Zilala. “An election is a time for celebration and people should be free to express themselves, so the moment we see political violence taking place then we see violation of human rights.
“Recently, there were cases of violence within the MDC-T party and that should not be tolerated so that we ensure that human rights are not violated as we are heading towards the polls.”
Mr Zilala urged Government to prosecute any individual or any political party involved in political violence, so that every citizen enjoys freedom of expression and association.
MDC-T has been caught in succession violence following the death of Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, who passed away on Valentine’s Day in South Africa, where he was being treated for cancer of the colon.