Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) joins the rest of the world in commemorating the United Nations International Day of Democracy and urges government to ratify, domesticate and implement the provisions of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Good Governance (The Charter).
Commemorated annually on 15 September, the International Day of Democracy, which is being commemorated under the theme "Democracy under Strain: Solutions for a Changing World", is meant to raise public awareness about democracy and to promote and uphold the principles of democracy.
International Day of Democracy is also an opportunity to highlight the values of freedom and respect for human rights as essential pre-conditions for democracy.
Democracy provides the natural environment for the protection and effective realisation of human rights.
The theme for International Day of Democracy is a reminder to governments everywhere that the hallmark of successful and stable democracies is a universal value based on the freely spoken and expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems.
In Zimbabwe, it is disheaterning that democracy is showing greater strain.
While President Emmerson Mnangagwa signed the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Good Governance early this year, it is disheartening that government has not moved to ratify, domesticate and implement its provisions.
The African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance seeks to promote adherence by African states to the universal values and principles of democracy and respect for human rights premised upon the supremacy of the Constitution and respect for the rule of law and is one of the key instruments that will advance democracy, peace and security in Zimbabwe, the region, and the continent as a whole.
While the decision to sign the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, is a progressive step to promote democracy in Zimbabwe, ZLHR is perturbed by the continued delay in ratifying and domesticating the provisions of the African Charter On Democracy, Elections and Governance. The African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance can only be meaningful if the government takes concrete steps to ratify and domesticate all the provisions.
It is saddening that International Day of Democracy is being commemorated when Zimbabwe is emerging from a disputed election, where many citizens living in the diaspora were disenfranchised after they were not allowed to vote in the harmonised elections in violation of the Constitution and several regional instruments of which Zimbabwe is a state party.
Equally worrying is the use of excessive force and the killing of citizens during protests by members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF), who used excessive force to disperse some protestors and innocent by standers on 1 August 2018.
Further, ZLHR is concerned about the persecution of human rights defenders who are being targeted and prosecuted after the 2018 harmonised elections.
Therefore, ZLHR calls upon:
Government to implement legal and administrative reforms to create a conducive environment that guarantees the respect and enjoyment of democracy and fundamental human rights and freedoms.
Government to ratify and domesticate the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Good Governance.
Government to speed up alignment of laws with the Constitution and ensure adherence to principles of democracy and constitutionalism.
Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights