Zimbabwe: African commission to discuss Harare human rights abuses

By Blessing Zulu

Washington - Non-governmental organizations from several African countries, resolved to place Zimbabwe's human rights violations high on the agenda of the 41st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights, which officially opened Wednesday in Accra, Ghana.

The resolution calls on Harare to stop "harassing, intimidating, assaulting, arresting and detaining human rights defenders, including members of the legal profession."

The NGO's also urged Harare to repeal repressive laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act or AIPPA, the Public Order and Security Act or POSA,, and the Broadcasting Services Act, among others.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, representing Zimbabwe, is expected to present his report in defense of the government, soon. In the report, Harare denies allegations of human rights abuses, and blames the country's economic crisis on western sanctions.

"The undeclared and declared sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, investor flight, shortage of basic commodities, a range of externally generated inflationary pressures and sustained diplomatic isolation orchestrated by Britain and its allies against Zimbabwe are negatively impacting on Zimbabwe's security, political and economic well being, hence the quality of life and the fundamental rights of its people," the Zimbabwe report said.

Harare also accuses Britain of forming and funding the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, in the hopes it will reverse the land reform program if elected into power.

Britain has refuted these allegations, and Zimbabwe's claims that sanctions are the cause of the Zimbabwe's economic decline. Western sanctions against Zimbabwe are targeted to specific government and party officials, including President Robert Mugabe.

The legal advisor for the Zimbabwe Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, Wilbert Mandinde, representing NGO's at the summit told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that human rights abuses in Harare are escalating and the Commission must intervene.

But Zimbabwe's Ambassador to the United Nations Boniface Chidyausiku, told reporter Zulu that NGO's are misrepresenting facts on the situation in Harare.

Secretary General Tendai Biti of the Movement for Democratic Change faction led by founding President Morgan Tsvangirai, refutes Harare's claims that it is a creation of the West.