VENUE: AMPHI THEATRE, BULAWAYO
DATE: 10 DECEMBER 2014
The Honourable Guest of Honour Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba
Honourable Minister of Provincial Affairs for Bulawayo Province, UMAMA Eunice Sandi Moyo
Honourable Government Ministers here present,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Your Worship the Mayor of Bulawayo – Councillor Martin Moyo
Fellow Commissioners of the ZHRC and other Chapter 12 independent Commissions here with us,
The Honourable President of the Chiefs Council va Charumbira lezinduna zethu zonke ezikhona lapha,
Representatives of Civil Society Organisations,
Representatives of the Private Sector,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure and honour to address you in my capacity as the Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission – A National Human Rights Institution constitutionally mandated to protect, promote and enforce human rights in the country – those fundamental values of our lives we call Ubuntu bethu, hunhu wedu.
Today we mark an important and historical day celebrated internationally every year in recognition of the coming into force of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The United Nations General Assembly to which Zimbabwe is an active member proclaimed 10 December as Human Rights Day in 1950. It is meant to bring to the attention of all “peoples of the world” the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. It reminds us that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted on 10 December 1948, was the result of the atrocious experiences of the Second World War in which many innocent lives were lost in cross fire or through deliberate attacks by the various warring parties. With the end of that war, and the creation of the United Nations, the international community vowed never again to allow such atrocities to happen. For this reason, today the UN General Secretary Mr Ban Kimoon is appealing to every one of us to advance the struggle against injustice, intolerance and extremism. The Universal Declaration of Rights binds all humanity through its unwavering and faithful promises to all of their economic, social, political, cultural and civil rights that guarantee a life free of want and fear.
What is the relevance of International Human Rights Day to the people of Zimbabwe?
Zimbabweas I said earlier, is a member state of the United Nations and has actively participated in the General Assembly deliberations relating to promoting world peace through the existing international mechanisms of protecting and promoting human rights such as the charter based and treaty based mechanisms. It has regularly participated in the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review processes and has ratified and domesticated many international treaties and conventions.
Our Constitution Amendment, (No.20) Act 2013 can best be described as a progressive Constitution as it incorporates the international bill of rights enshrined in Chapter 4 commonly referred to as the “Declaration of Rights”
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission is proud to be associated with the Constitution that provides and safeguards the fundamental rights and freedoms which our forefathers struggled and fought for “Ku Impi yakuqala yenkululeko yethu”. As a constitutional independent body mandated to protect, promote and enforce human rights in the country, we wish to salute and congratulate the people of Zimbabwe on this occasion. We further promise that we shall continue to strive to ensure that all the rights and fundamental freedoms stipulated in the Constitution and other international human rights instruments that Zimbabwe is party to, are upheld and promoted at all times.
Following a study of our terrain and environment, the Commission is aware of the challenges related to the protection, promotion and enforcement of human rights in our country. However, with a clear legal framework that governs our work, we exhort and appeal for total co-operation of all peoples and agencies (be it state or non-state actors) and to remind them to always reflect and adhere to the Constitutional provision at section 44 that states:
“The State and every person including juristic persons, and every institution and agency of the government at every level must respect, protect, promote and fulfill the rights and freedoms set out in the Constitution.”
The duty of protecting and promoting human rights therefore hinges on each and every one of us irrespective of our positions or status in society. The aforesaid constitutional provision places every citizen into a category or class of human rights defender.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission also wishes to acknowledge and thank other development organisations that have been protecting and promoting human rights prior to the existence of the Commission. We continue to urge you to play that complimentary role since human rights work is an enormous task that cannot be totally fulfilled by one national institution such as the ZHRC. We all need to work together, for working together means we can achieve more and better results.
What is the relevance of this year’s theme?
This year’s theme “human rights 365” is meant to urge all of us to celebrate and realise that each day is human rights day. According to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN-OHCHR) Human Rights 365, encompasses the idea that every day is human rights day 24 – 7 – 365. It celebrates the fundamental proposition in the Universal Declaration that each one of us, everywhere, at all times is entitled to the full range of human rights, that human rights belong equally to each of us and bind us together as a global community with the same ideals, principles and values. Human rights are indeed universal and indivisible, inalienable and for everyone 365 days a year.
How do we make this a reality in Zimbabwe?
The Commission wishes to urge and impress upon all citizens and persons living in Zimbabwe to be mindful of the freedoms and corresponding duties or obligations we all carry. We should therefore spare no effort in educating and creating awareness of our rights and responsibilities starting from the basic unit of society commonly referred to as the family. That’s where human rights begin. We should all recognise that both men and women are equal and have equal rights in the home and beyond and these rights should also apply to the children who are a vulnerable group. We should all adhere to respecting and promoting human rights at all times and at all levels in society. There should be zero tolerance to Gender Based Violence, to early child marriages and betrothals, to any offending and archaic cultural practises such as ukuthwala, diabolic acts such as rape of minors and women. We roundly and unreservedly condemn the endemic culture of corruption in some public institutions and agencies as such malpractices are compromising efficient service delivery and grossly violating people’s rights. We therefore call upon government to overhaul its operational systems in order to reap dividends from its very noble Zim – Asset Project.
It’s through such efforts that we can build and inculcate a culture of human rights in our country.
In conclusion I once again congratulate all the people of Zimbabwe upon commemorating this important international day, thank all those involved in the organisational work of this event for a job well done. I thank our entertainers, poets and all other key stakeholders responsible for making this occasion such a success. I continue to urge you all to work with your Commission in promoting and protecting human rights in our beautiful country every day 365 to make it a better place for all of us.
I thank you and wish you all full enjoyment of your rights 365