By Staff Writer
ZIMBABWE Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) has condemned the widening gap between the haves and have nots despite 42 years of independence from colonial rule.
The Civil Society Organisation said while independence ushered in the start of a nation grounded on respect for human rights and values of mutual respect and dignity, Zimbabwe has fallen far short of living within the constitutional founding principles.
“Today, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) joins the rest of the country in saluting heroes, living and departed, of the liberation struggle whilst lamenting the deplorable oppression, and abuse of human rights that is now the order of the day,” the forum said.
The forum said the theme Zim@42- Leaving no one and no place behind does not auger with the theme and indeed the Constitution.
“For the past 42 years, the gap between the rich and the poor has been growing, to the extent of diminishing this year’s theme without reasonable doubt.
“The gap between the rich and the poor is widening. Corruption at the highest level of society has allegedly been rampant,” said the Forum.
The NGO said manipulation of currencies and inconsistencies in economic policies by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has widened inequalities among citizens added to the collapsing economy, caused by currency distortions, has seen the prices of basic commodities going beyond the reach of many, mostly poorly paid, citizens, government workers included.
“Many are struggling to access essential staple food, clean water, electricity, and health services. Selective application of the law especially favoring the ruling elite and cartels connected to them has indeed left behind many citizens,” said the forum.
The grouping noted that grand corruption involving national resources has been left unchecked while ruling party functionaries have been left to violate the law with impunity with the independence celebrations also coming when disturbing developments are taking place in the country.
These include the closure of civic space and continuous abuse of human rights, particularly the opposition supporters and human rights defenders.
The forum said it is worrying that the government has taken a preoccupation with crafting laws to close civic space, taking the country decades back which include the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Amendment Bill, the proposed Patriotic Bill, and the Cyber Security Act, among others.
“These are not laws fit for an independent country that has seen the worst form of repression from the colonial government using similar laws.
“The Forum acknowledges that true independence is when all the people of Zimbabwe are truly free, and their rights and freedoms are respected and protected,” added the Forum.
The Forum, therefore, urged the government of Zimbabwe to;) address the economic challenges faced by Zimbabweans; respect the values that the brave sons and daughters who took up arms fought for; commit to uniting citizens and fulfilling their desire for freedom, justice, and equality; commit to the values of democracy, good, transparent, and accountable governance and allow for an enabling environment and open civic space.