Zimbabwe social fabric in tatters: NGO Forum

MUTARE – Zimbabwe’s social fabric is in tatters as criminal activities are rising amid apparent social denigration due to mounting interlinked political, economic and social challenges.

This is despite a relatively calm third quarter with no major incidence of civil and political rights violations, according to a report by The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum).

The report also states that key violations included wanton evictions of residents, violent removal of vendors as well as violation of workers’ rights.

The report covered political and human rights violations in Zimbabwe for the period July to September 2015.

“The third quarter of the year was relatively calm with no major incidences of civil and political rights violations. Key violations noted during the period included violation of freedom from arbitrary eviction; the violent removal of vendors from undesignated operating spaces and the violation of workers’ rights,” stated the report.

“However, the country continues to suffer from interlinked political, economic and social challenges. Formal unemployment levels are estimated at around 90% and this is further aggravated by reduced opportunities for informal work after informal traders were taken off the streets in all urban centres. Socially, the country is regressing with criminal statistics rising and social degeneration becoming an observable symptom.

“The Harare Municipal Police demolished houses in areas in and around the City of Harare and also embarked on a violent crackdown on unlicensed street vendors. This was characterised by assaults, arbitrary arrests and destruction and confistication of vendors’ wares.”

The Forum noted with concern that “although, there was a marked decline in cases of organized violence and torture, the country is still to find closure on the Itai Dzamara’s disappearance. Law enforcement agents continue to profess ignorance on his whereabouts, despite a High Court order compelling them to search for Dzamara and provide regular updates.”

With unemployment figures pegged at 90%, the NGO Forum laments the comatose local economy amid utility stagnation, power outages being the typical example.

The Forum went on to urge government to step in and arrest the dire situation prevailing in the country.

“Service delivery remains constrained. Currently the country faces the worst power cuts in history. Some residential areas experienced power cuts of more than 17 hours a day.

“In the circumstances, the Forum recommends to the Government of Zimbabwe to improve on service delivery and be committed to finding a lasting solution to the ever declining social and economic conditions.”

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) is a coalition of 21 human rights organisations. The Forum has been in existence since January 1998 when Non-Governmental Organisations working in the field of human rights joined together to provide legal and psychosocial assistance to the victims of the food riots of January 1998.