Lack of information hampering development, fuelling human rights violations

Villagers from Buhera West are concerned over the lack of educative programmes aimed at enlightening them on their basic rights as enshrined in Zimbabwe’s new constitution.

The concerns by the villagers came out during a +263 Dialogue Series held by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CIZC) on November 10, 2015, at Nhindwe Community Hall in Buhera West.

By Edgar Gweshe

The Dialogue Series was held under the topic “Kuongorora mashandiro ehutungamiriri panyaya dzebudiriro munharaunda” (Advancing Community Development or Dormant Leadership: Interrogating Local Leadership Performance on Infrastructural Development Projects”.

Discussions during the Dialogue Series revealed that most of the villagers were unaware of the provisions of the new charter with regards their fundamental human rights.

Zimbabwe adopted a new constitution in March 2013.

There was concern among the villagers that due to their lack of knowledge on their rights enshrined in the country’s constitution, they could not hold office bearers to account as well as demand their basic rights.

“We are encouraging the government as well as other interested organisations to make sure that people from grassroots communities like us get knowledge on the constitution so that we can be able to stand up for our rights and demand services from authorities.

“As long as people are not aware of their rights, they will continue to be violated because how can people demand their rights when they do not know them like was the case here,” said Enos Rufoni from Manjengwa village.

From their submissions during the Dialogue Series, the villagers highlighted that their constitutional rights of access to water, food and education were being violated.

However, some of them shockingly revealed that they were not aware that these rights were guaranteed in the country’s constitution.

Sections 75, 76 and 77 of Zimbabwe’s constitution guarantee the right to education, health care as well as food and water respectively.

“We are facing a lot of challenges with regards to education for our children in this area as well as accessing health care but all along, I personally did not have knowledge that the constitution guarantees the right to education as well as health care,” said Jennifer Mutaramuswa.

The villagers said it was critical for them to hold their leadership, such as councilors and Members of Parliament (MPs), to account but said this was being hampered by the fact that they did not have knowledge about their constitutional rights.

Another concern raised by the villagers was the issue of partisan distribution of food aid.

The villagers complained that perceived and known opposition activists were being sidelined from government’s food relief programmes.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition distributed 40 copies of the constitution to the villagers and the coalition’s Policy and Research Officer, Thulani Mswelanto urged the villagers to form platforms through which they can continuously meet to discuss their rights as enshrined in the constitution.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition