Donors demand govt commitment on human rights issues: ZHRC

via Donors demand govt commitment on human rights issues: ZHRC January 17, 2014 by Veneranda Langa NewsDay

A MEMBER of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) Elasto Mugwadi told Parliament on Wednesday that donors were demanding government commitment on human rights issues before they could fund the cash-strapped commission.

Mugwadi told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs that developmental partners were interested in funding the commission on condition that government showed commitment by providing $300 000 into the ZHRC coffers.

Since its inception in 2009, ZHRC has been hamstrung by lack of funding. Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs secretary Virginia Mabhiza recently disclosed that under the 2014 National Budget, the commission had been allocated a paltry $2 million against its request of $5,3 million.

“In terms of international best practices and Paris principles, commissions are set up by United Nations member States and are supposed to be funded by those respective member states,” Mugwadi said.

“However, developmental partners know that Zimbabwe is facing financial challenges and have pledged $1,5 million, but have said government should
first come up with $300 000 to renovate the building where ZHRC operates from so as to show their commitment that they are serious with promoting good human rights practices in the country since they are a signatory to human rights protocols.”

According to Mugwadi, commissions are legally allowed to seek internal and external donations to fund their operations if government cannot fully fund them.
Mabhiza said ZHRC needed enough funding to establish a secretariat, office accommodation, office furniture and equipment and tools of trade like vehicles.

She said commissioners also needed attractive salaries, fuel, awareness workshops and there was also need for attractive perks for their support staff.

“Of this budgeted amount of $2 018 000, only $400 000 is in respect of capital expenditure. This amount is not adequate to cater for a new commission,” Mabhiza said.