ZimRights Vice Chairperson, Takesure Musiiwa speaks during the AGM
Harare – War veterans of Zimbabwe’s liberation war and other civil society organisations have pledged to work together with the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) towards the attainment of peace in the communities ahead of the 2018 elections. They were giving solidarity remarks at the recent ZimRights Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Harare at which the organisation – formed in 1992 – marked 25 years of its existence and relevance.
ZimRights Director, Okay Machisa, said the organisations needed to work harder towards attaining peace and human rights in the communities ahead of the national elections sheduled for 2018.
“Our importance to the communities is that we want to see peace,” he said.
“What are we going to do from now on and in the next 24 months to promote peace?
“The war we are going to fight is to defend human rights.
“We need to improve the way we monitor and report human rights.”
Machisa said the organisation will continue to oppose the use of social welfare programs to divide communities along political fault lines.
“We saw during the Hurungwe by-elections suddenly truckloads of maize going there,” said Machisa.
“Next in Norton by-elections truckloads going there…we saw that again in Bikita West.
“As human rights defenders we cannot just let that happen.”
Zimbabwe Liberators Platform (ZLP) Director, Wilson Nharingo, said they wanted to engage other war veterans, who have been previously engaged in political violence, to build peace in communities.
The ex-combatant said liberation values did not condone human rights violations.
Nharingo pledged that ZLP will be ready to work with ZimRights in its quest to promote peace and to end the human rights violations that have characterised previous elections in the country.
“A lot of you here are aware of the guys who formed the nucleus of the Zimbabwe Liberators Platform in the year 2000,” he said.
“The organisation was formed as a response to a wave of violence, lawlessness, [and] anarchy that gripped the country then due to the land invasions and the elections that were about to take place.
“These [former] senior commanders sat down, discussed and agreed that what was happening was a negation of the liberation struggle ideals.
“This was a deviation from the principles that enabled the waging of the liberation struggle.”
He said the ZLP was working to engage the other entity of former freedom fighters, the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), in its wish to reshape former liberation fighters into peace ambassadors in Zimbabwe.
“Who else other than the war veteran can convince the rogue war veterans that what they are doing is bad?” Nharingo said.
Explaining the purpose of the liberation struggle, he said: “…people wanted to free themselves from the captivity of the Smith regime, people wanted democracy in order to choose their respective leaders, people wanted respect for their dignity, people wanted peace, [and] people wanted social justice.”
Elections Resource Centre (ERC) Director, Tawanda Chimhini, said: “The important stages of the election will be what happens during and after voter registration. When the Biometric Voter Registration process comes, we also want the electoral laws and regulations to be proper.”
Participants at the Annual General Meeting in Harare where ZimRights celebrated 25 years
“Human rights are the infrastructure of human dignity,” he said.
“All Zimbabweans, including those who are running this country…including political parties …including the police, everyone must believe and value the dignity of the individual.
“It is only when we have realised this that we would have succeeded to serve our purpose.”
Zimbabwe NGO Human Rights Forum (NGO Forum) Director, Lloyd Kuvheya, praised ZimRights for teaching communities about the constitution.
“ZimRights has done a lot in terms of going out to the communities to teach people to understand the constitution,” he said. “We have a new Constitution that we got in 2013 which has an expanded Bill of Rights.
“It states clearly what the state should do in terms of its obligations. It has established new critical institutions.
“More critically [we have] the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission that is meant to address the legacy of violence that we now want to get away from as we move towards a new peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe.”