Each year Zimbabwe sets aside a day to remember the heroes and heroines who stood up against oppression and all forms of human rights violations. Today, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) joins the rest of the country in commemorating this day and saluting the living and departed heroes and heroines of the continuing struggle against all forms of domination, oppression and violation of human rights.
The Forum acknowledges that the work of the heroes and heroines of the armed struggle will never be complete until all the people of Zimbabwe are truly free and their rights and freedoms are respected and protected. Regrettably, this day has lost meaning for the generality of the people owing to the increasing insecurity for many vulnerable people due to the worsening economic situation, rising political tensions and the unending attack by the State on vulnerable citizens. This Heroes Day is an opportunity for us as a nation to reflect on the long-forgotten ideals of heroes of yesteryear, including respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by Chapter 4 of our Constitution.
The 2021 Heroes Day commemorations occur when continuous violence is being perpetrated against civilians for political expediency. The Forum laments the cyclic human rights violations occurring at the hands of the security forces, which are the heirs of the armed struggle heroes. The Zimbabwean State has failed to capture human security ideals and transform itself in the service of human dignity. In every Heroes Day statement issued by the State since independence, commitments to human rights have been rhetoric or cosmetic at best, which has resulted in further repression. The security sector remains at the centre of violence, which the Forum continues to condemn. The war on human dignity spreads beyond the State’s direct violence, as witnessed on 1 August 2018; 14 January 2019 and the COVID-19 lockdown violations in 2020 and 2021.
As the nation reflects on the work and ideals of our yesteryear heroes, the question that all citizens have “is this Zimbabwe our heroes envisaged?”
The Forum, therefore, calls on the State to:
- urgently put in place structural reforms, which include the substantive and comprehensive transformation of the security forces to ensure non-recurrence so that citizens of Zimbabwe can enjoy their rights without fear of repression in an independent country.
- Implement an inclusive human-centred approach to economic development that prioritises the welfare of the people.
- Take advantage of this year’s Heroes’ Day to initiate a truly professional security force, which is driven by the ideals of ending repression drawn from our heroes.