Government’s non-commitment to upholding the values and principles of democracy has been exposed by its failure to ensure that independent commissions set up under the country’s Constitution are well capacitated to carry out their constitutional mandates, civic society organisations have said.
Source: Govt’s window dressing tactics exposed – NewsDay Zimbabwe October 29, 2016
BY Own Correspondent
This came out at a dialogue and transition in Zimbabwe policy conference organised by the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) in Harare on Thursday.
Chapter 12 of Zimbabwe’s Constitution established the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), Zimbabwe Gender Commission, the Zimbabwe Media Commission and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission.
The commissions are mandated to promote constitutionalism, to support and entrench human rights and democracy, to promote transparency and accountability and addressing injustices among other duties.
CiZC director, Memory Kadau expressed concern that the government was deliberately suppressing independent commissions.
This, she said, was meant to entrench the ruling party’s stay in power, as well as to protect the selfish political interests and gains of ruling party politicians.
“As Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, we note with concern that the independent commissions have not been properly capacitated to carry out their constitutional mandates. It is disturbing to note how powerful politicians are interfering with the work of these commissions in a bid to protect selfish political interests. The government has proved that they are not willing to adequately empower these commissions and this is very disturbing to us as civic society,” she said.
In 2013, officers from the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), despite being armed with a search warrant from the High Court, were blocked from searching the offices of the then Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu and former Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere.
They were also blocked from searching the offices of the then Transport and Infrastructural Development minister Nicholas Goche.
This month, Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo was saved from arrest by Zacc officers by President Robert Mugabe.
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum director, Lloyd Kuvheya, in apparent reference to Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, said it was shocking that members of the presidium would block an anti-corruption body from executing its mandate.
This month, Mphoko reportedly castigated Zacc officers over their attempt to arrest Moyo.
Zimbabwe Election Support Network programmes officer, Ellen Dingane expressed concern that political interference had compromised the independence of Zec, which has often come under fire for acting as an extension Zanu PF.
“The problem is that Zec reports to the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary minister and when we go for elections, he will be a contestant as well. What this means is that the independence of Zec is very much compromised,” she said.
ZHRC education and research officer, Karukai Ratsauka confirmed that they had limited powers to carry out their constitutional mandate.
“For example, we do not have the power to search for documents or to demand the production of these documents so our investigations focus more on interviews and observations. We need power to enter and search premises.
“We also need the police to co-operate and accompany us to investigations, especially those that are of a criminal nature,” he said.