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Crisis Coalition Statement on Africa Human Rights Day

For Immediate Release October 21, 2021 Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, an umbrella body of civil society organisations operating in Zimbabwe joins the African Continent in commemorating Africa Human Rights Day, a day that also marks the adoption of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights in 1981. This year, Africa Human Rights Day is being commemorated under the theme “Africa Human Rights 40 Years After the Adoption of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights” As we commemorate this important day, we remain cognizant of the fact that the Covid 19 pandemic has impacted negatively on enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms in most African states. In Zimbabwe in particular, the Covid 19 guidelines have been abused to entrench authoritarian rule and to deprive citizens of their constitutional right to elect leaders through the suspension of by-elections. We note with concern that the government of Zimbabwe continues to abuse the Covid 19 guidelines to thwart fundamental freedoms which are enshrined in the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights such as freedom of assembly. The Covid 19 pandemic has also exposed serious shortcomings in as far as infrastructural development in the health sector is concerned and this again has infringed on citizens’ right to health. The situation has also been worsened by corruption related to the procurement of Covid 19 materials. The Covid 19 pandemic also negatively affected the right to education as it exposed lack of investment in the education sector. The situation in Zimbabwe is similar to most countries within the Southern African Development Community (SADC). At the SADC level, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition reiterates its call for SADC to intervene in resolving the crisis in Swaziland which has resulted in a series of rights violations following protests against the country’s absolute monarch. In Mozambique, the insurgency in the Cabo Delgado region has resulted in a major humanitarian crisis while rights violations continue to be recorded. Rights violations in member states should be condemned and SADC should ensure member states abide by regional guidelines on democracy. Commemorating Africa Human Rights Day should serve as an opportunity to reflect on the commitment by African States to the respect of citizens’ fundamental rights as enshrined in the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and it is quite unfortunate that the Covid 19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of African citizens to rights violations. Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition implores African States to take legislative steps to implement and uphold the rights and freedoms contained in the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. ENDS//

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