THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Organisation, (ZHRO) has warned that its members and potential investors would might not come to southern African country due to reports of human rights abuse.
The England based organisation said government’s call for citizens in the diaspora to invest in the country under the mantra ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’ was falling off the rails because of its failure to improve its human rights record.
ZHRO said it would be difficult for government to convince investors and Zimbabweans in the diaspora to participate in the rebuilding of the economy if government does not show commitment to improve human rights abuse cases.
“Up to now nobody has been held accountable for either the August killings or those that occurred in January,” said Eugene Chitambo, a member of ZHRO and an accounting professional.
Chitambo said he and ZHRO felt government’s call for diaspora investment in the country was not sincere as the situation on the ground was not condusive.
“They want investments from the diaspora. They want us to return home and work but they can’t guarantee us our freedom. Would we be able to express our political views in Zimbabwe and still be guaranteed of our safety in such an environment? They say one thing but practice the opposite,” Chitambo said.
Many human rights defenders living in Zimbabwe have had to flee their homes and gone into hiding in fear of the security forces over the past year.
When President Emmerson Mnangagwa took over from former President Robert Mugabe in November 2017 he pledged that his administration would deliver a government that would respect the rights of its citizens. He promised that his government would be significantly different from his predecessor’s regime.
However there have been reports that the army has become more involved in civilian affairs ever since Mugabe’s departure. Two major protests have been ruthlessly dealt with by the country’s military.
Soon after the July 2018 general election opposition protesters who went into the streets to demonstrate against what they perceived as a calculated delay in releasing the results were met by members of the army in the streets.
Six people were shot on the day. Although the army denied the killings there were numerous eye witness accounts, videos and photographs of soldiers shooting in the streets.
During the aftermath of the protests some activists were pursued at their homes and abducted by state security agents and tortured.
At the beginning of this year the ‘cycle’ was repeated after protests against a major hike in fuel price. In the aftermath of the strike the army went on a rampage in residential areas. Several people died while others were injured.