Create a conducive political environment, Govt urged

Zimbabwe lawyers for human rights have urged the government to create a conducive pre-election environment that promotes political pluralism. 

The country is headed towards general elections and past elections have been marred by political violence.  

The human rights defenders made the recommendation in their Africa Day message, Thursday. 

ZLHR noted that while the day is held to commemorate significant accomplishments, they are concerned that the government of Zimbabwe keeps enacting laws that stand in the way of democracy.  

“ZLHR appreciates the successes and progress of the African continent to date and acknowledges the hurdles that the resilient African people have overcome over the past six decades in the fight against the legacy of colonialism and unfair discrimination,” the organisation noted in a statement. 

“In celebrating the legacy of defeating colonialism and other injustices, ZLHR urges the government to ensure a pre-electoral operating environment that protects political pluralism and open civic space, including domesticating the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, which provides clear standards for democracy, respect for human rights, and the holding of regular, free and fair elections.”  

ZLHR said it was worrying that government keeps defending the enactment of repressive legislation such as the Private Voluntary Organisations (PO) Amendment Bill. 

“It (the Bill) is contrary to international human rights and the Financial Action Task Force, the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog standards, and which it passed into law will have far reaching implications for human rights, humanitarian and development sectors and will result in the closing down of civic space,” they said. 

“The government must implement legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system without unnecessarily undermining the democratic space and contributing to over-regulation of the not-for-profit sector in Zimbabwe. They must also stop persecution and prosecution of human rights defenders and perceived government opponents and review sanctions imposed on some of them.”

President Mnangagwa is expected to proclaim the election date at the end of May, kickstarting the official campaign season.

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