Rights Commission blasts Govt over suspension of by-elections

Rights Commission blasts Govt over suspension of by-elections

THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has urged Zimbabweans to demand their constitutional rights and hold authorities to account following the indefinite suspension of by-elections by Vice President cum Health minister, Constantino Chiwenga.

The commission issued the statement Wednesday, adding that citizens should claim their rights peacefully while also adhering to COVID-19 guidelines.

“Citizens should, whenever necessary, peacefully claim their constitutional rights and take duty bearers to account,” the ZHRC said.

The constitutional commission also urged the Government of Zimbabwe to observe the democratic tenets of its peoples as enshrined in the Constitution, and at the same time exercise the doctrine of separation of powers among the Executive, Judiciary and Legislature.

“The ZHRC calls upon the Government of Zimbabwe to observe and respect the democratic and political rights of its people as enshrined in the Constitution and other regional and international instruments and guidelines,” the statement read.

The commission further said while it acknowledged the threat of COVID-19 to Zimbabwean and global citizens, the cumulative active cases in the country were declining and no longer alarming.

The ZHRC also said while the suspension of by-election restrictions may be necessary in a democratic society, these should respect pluralism, broadmindedness and tolerance.

“Measures should be imposed for a limited and reasonable duration and not be applied indefinitely,” further read the ZHRC statement.

“State authorities and structures must exercise separation of powers, consultative engagements and inclusion in serious decision-making processes.

“Pandemics should not be used as an opportunity by States to unleash absolute executive powers,” the commission added.

The ZHRC also urged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to exercise its independence and autonomy with regards to electoral processes as per its constitutional mandate.

The Constitution of Zimbabwe established the ZHRC to help ensure the protection of the rights enshrined therein.

Zimbabwe is currently under fire after VP Chiwenga indefinitely suspended the holding of by-elections in the country, citing the observance of COVID-19 regulations.

The Election Resource Centre (together with other NGOs) has since taken President Emmerson Mnangagwa to court over the issue in a bid to compel him to announce dates for by elections.

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