via Activists take Bob to ConCourt over CIOs – NewZimbabwe 12/01/2016
THE Constitutional Court will, Wednesday, hear the case in which human rights activists want President Robert Mugabe forced to establish a board to investigate complaints against his dreaded “spooks” as well as all securocrats.
In this case Heal Zimbabwe director Rashi Mahiya and another senior official Hilton Chironga want an order compelling the government “to do something to implement section 210 of the Constitution, which requires the passing of an Act of Parliament to provide an effective independent complaints mechanism to receive, investigate and deal with complaints from members of the public about misconduct on the part of members of the police and other security services”.
Over the past 35 years, Mugabe’s feared Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and other military and security apparatus have been blamed for a litany of rights abuses as well as murders and disappearances including that of journalist-cum-democracy activist Itai Dzamara almost a year ago.
In the application filed at the ConCourt in June last year, the two’s lawyer Tendai Biti of Tendai Biti Law, argued that Mugabe was in breach of Section 234 of the Constitution and had no reason to fail to introduce a parliamentary Bill to operationalise the “body that should superintend over the excesses of Mugabe’s security apparatus”.
“In terms of Section 210 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, an Act of Parliament must provide for an effective and independent mechanism for receiving and investigating complaints from members of the public about misconduct on the part of members of the security services and for remedying any harm caused by such misconduct,” Mahiya and Chironga told the ConCourt.
The government, Vice-President and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, then Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi (now State Security) and Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi are cited as respondents.
“More than two years after the passing of the Constitution, the Executive has not complied with the Constitution by bringing into existence the Act of Parliament defined in Section 210 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Section 324 says all constitutional obligations must be performed diligently and without delay,” the duo said.
“The failure by the Executive and indeed the respondents to bring the law envisaged in Section 210 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe is a breach of Section 324 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”
Mahiya and Chironga added that they were aware of the process that bills are taken through before being passed into law and “do not see any problems” if Mugabe were to cause a bill to be originated.
“There have been instances where Cabinet, in less than two weeks, has approved principles of the same referred to the Cabinet committee on legislation then approved in Cabinet and then gazetting.
“The flurry of Bills which were approved by the Seventh Parliament towards the end of its term, which included the Finance Bill and Money Laundering legislation, were all fast-tracked in this manner,” the activists said.
According to the applicants, 45 days were enough for the respondents to bring a Bill on the issue to the National Assembly.
“Further, the extent that as a Zimbabwean, I am entitled to full protection of the Constitution and its laws and at the present moment, I am being denied protection of the law provided for in terms of Section 210, I contend that the respondents’ actions are a breach on my constitutional rights as protected by Section 56(1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” the application argued.
They said the CIO, police and the army have been fingered in a host of human rights violations but have never been subjected to a judicial inquiry to answer for clear themselves.
“Various atrocities and flagrant violations of human rights have been committed against our people by the State at various levels. In my line of work, I have witnessed the agonies of the violence perpetrated against our citizens in unmitigated proportions,” Chironga said adding the intelligence agency in particular has “made citizens uncomfortable”.