The Honorable Minister for Harare Provincial Affairs The Honorable Ministers here present Honorable Members of Parliament Honorable Commissioners from the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and other Commissions here with us Representatives of Academia Representatives of Civil Society, Labor and Faith Based Organizations Members of the Diplomatic Corps Members of the Media Fraternity Members of staff of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Our Valued Consultants Distinguished Guests Ladies and Gentlemen May I on behalf of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission welcome you all our valuable stakeholders to this Validation Workshop on the Baseline Survey Report on Perceptions, Attitudes and Understanding of Human Rights in Zimbabwe.
You are all aware that the ZHRC was created by the then Global Political Agreement (GPA) in 2009 and was given effect to by Amendment No. (19) and specifically Section 100R of the former Constitution. It currently finds expression in terms of sections 232 and 242 of the current people driven Constitution Amendment No. (20) Act 2013. It is saddled with the Constitutional Mandate of Protecting, Promoting and Enforcing Human Rights in the Country, it is in other words the major Human Rights watchdog in the Country. In this regard it is the duty of the ZHRC to ensure Human Rights concepts provided for in the Declaration of Rights and other International Human Rights Instruments to which Zimbabwe is signatory, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are observed and implemented to the spirit and latter.
When the Commission was established and the pioneer Commissioners where appointed on 31st March 2010, it was likened by the former Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Justice David Mangota to a baby born when its parents least expected it. There were no diapers or napkins, no baby cot, no perambulator and no baby food. The Commission is simple parlance had no budget or any form of resource to talk about at inception, it was only in 2013 that the Commission received a paltry budget as seed money. I am happy that the Commission is now up and about, running and able to discharge its onerous mandate.
Full operationalization of the Commission however commenced in 2013 with the appointment of a fully-fledged Secretariat in June of that year. The ZHRC addresses Human Rights issues through Complaints Handling and Investigations, Public Awareness Raising, Monitoring and Inspections of Prisons and other places of detention. Significant steps are taken to build the institutional strength of the Commission to establish it as an effective, efficient and credible organization, capable of fulfilling its mandate. One such step is the completion of this Baseline Survey commissioned in 2013 in all the 10 provinces of the country with support from the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Zimbabwe Country Office.
The Baseline Survey was conducted to find out what people of Zimbabwe think, know and understand about human rights and to determine what they see as the most important human rights issues in the country. The survey also sought to ascertain the overall objectives of the exercise were to;
- Generate baseline information grounded on scientific methodology of data collection and assessment to gauge the perceptions, attitudes and knowledge levels of human rights;
- Assess enjoyment of all categories of human rights by different gender groups;
- Identify as far as possible specific and context –based human rights issues and priorities requiring urgent intervention by the Commission and key stakeholders in the country;
- Determine perceptions, attitudes and awareness levels of the ZHRC by the public and key stakeholders including role and mandate of the Commission;
- Identify other key Independent Commissions and how they contribute towards the protection, promotion of human rights –related issues; and
- Explore and enhance partnership building and engagement between the ZHRC, Government Ministries/ Departments and other key players to nurture a holistic approach to human rights promotion, protection and enforcement.
The ZHRC recognizes the importance of validating the findings of the Baseline Survey by gathering views and comments from diverse stakeholders represented at this workshop. I am glad to observe that key stakeholders represented include; representatives from Government Ministries and Departments; representatives from local government, representatives from traditional authorities; Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) including women’s organisations, children’s organisations, faith – based organisations, organisations representing people with disabilities, traditional leadership and youth organisations, the private sector, the academia and international cooperating and development partners; and of course members of the general public.
It is our hope that this workshop will endorse the outcomes of the Baseline Survey as one of the key steps for the ZHRC to ultimately utilize the findings as part of crucial evidence –based reference material for contributing towards the development of an all-inclusive Strategic Plan for the Commission. Beyond that it is our hope that this Baseline Survey will contribute to the ultimate objective of having data that can inform human rights programming and policy development by all stakeholders working towards the fulfilment of human rights in the country. The information should contribute significantly to the work of human rights stakeholders in Zimbabwe in many ways:
- Policy makers, researchers, academia, practitioners and other human rights stakeholder will have access to quantifiable data on human rights awareness;
- The information will provide input for advocacy and programming; and
- It will be useful in shaping human rights initiatives, responses and activities by revealing evidence on areas in need of improvement. Above all we hope that indeed, these Baseline Survey findings will provide guidelines for a collective approach for efficient and effective protection, promotion and fulfilment of human rights nation-wide. We hope today’s engagement will give us new insight, to assume our different roles in order to contribute towards enhanced protection, promotion and enforcement of human rights in an impartial manner.
I would like to encourage us all to feel free to contribute effectively in this meeting as all of our ideas will be valuable in shaping the ZHRC programming and future endeavours. In the spirit of true co-operation, we must work together in an action – oriented effort to resolve and address the challenges that beset the realization of human rights in our great country. I would also like to encourage you to cascade the knowledge information gained here today to your fellow colleagues within your areas of influence who are not here present so as to capacitate them too on the priority areas of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Zimbabwe.
Finally, my personal expectation from the outcomes of this Validation exercise are:
- Adopted Baseline Survey Report on Perceptions, Attitudes and Understanding of Human Rights in Zimbabwe to guide the ZHRC’s Strategic Plan.
- Adoption of the additional strategic and programming issues that re responsive to the broad public and key players in human rights promotion and protection;
- Enhancement of collaborative partnerships between the ZHRC and the key stakeholders that promote, protect and enforce human rights.
Ladies and gentlemen, I wish you all stimulating discussions in this workshop.
I THANK YOU!