The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZIMRIGHTS) joins the rest of Africa in commemorating the African Human Rights on 21 October. The day was set aside by the African Union (Organisation of African Union then) to commemorate the entry into force of the Africa Charter on
Human and Peoples’ Rights. This year’s celebrations follow a year of relative calm and peace in Zimbabwe following the signing of the Global Political Agreement and afford us an opportunity to assess the commitment of the Inclusive Government to the values and ideals set out in the African Charter.
On 21 October 1986, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights came into force as a solemn undertaking by African heads of state to promote and safeguard freedom, justice, equality and human dignity in Africa. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights at its Fifth Ordinary Session in April 1989, in Benghazi, Libya, recommended the commemoration of Africa Human Rights Day as an occasion for recommitment to the cause of human rights and fundamental freedoms on the Continent and to tackle the human rights problems that are affecting and continue to affect the lives of millions of men, women and children including the challenges of poverty, conflicts, HIV/AIDS, gender based discrimination, violence against women.
The context of this year’s celebrations is unique in that it follows the signing of the GPA and the subsequent establishment of Government of National Unity (GNU) which has brought about relative peace and stability to Zimbabwe. The GPA has afforded Zimbabweans an opportunity to input into the drafting of a new constitution (article 6) and the creation of mechanisms that may achieve national healing, cohesion and unity (article 7).
It is against this backdrop that the Forum together with its member organisation the ZIMRIGHTS shall be conducting a march to commemorate Africa Human Rights Day and to encourage the GNU to take positive steps to inculcate the values enshrined in the African Human Rights system into our legislative agenda.