Zimbabwe: Independence celebrations marred by human rights failures

The Zimbabwean government is effectively denying many people their human rights by dragging its heels in aligning the country’s laws with the constitution adopted two years ago, said Amnesty International on the 35th anniversary of independence from Britain on 18 April.


“It is nearly two years, since a new constitution was adopted in May 2013. The process of aligning the country’s laws with the constitution has been painfully slow, denying people in Zimbabwe some of the progressive human rights provisions enshrined in the supreme law of the country. The government must urgently amend or repeal all laws that are not in line with the constitution,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Southern Africa.


The government’s seeming disregard for human rights is underscored by the lack of progress over establishing the whereabouts of the well-known government critic Itai Dzamara who “disappeared” over a month ago.


“It is ironic that while celebrating 35 years of freedom from colonial rule, there has been a disturbing lack of progress in establishing the whereabouts of Itai Dzamara who “disappeared” without trace over a month ago. The Zimbabwean security agencies must comply fully with the order issued by the High Court in March, to search for the disappeared activist and update the court on the progress every two weeks.”


As the country celebrates Independence Day, Amnesty International is calling on the government to guarantee all human rights and ensure that all state security agencies respect people’s rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly without distinction.


Background

Zimbabwe gained its independence from Britain in April 1980 after a protracted liberation war. President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party won the first elections held in 1980 and he became the country’s first prime minister. Mugabe became president in 1987 following the merger with arch-rival Joshua Nkomo’s PF-ZAPU party.