The Sunday Mail
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet will dispatch a high-level rapporteur to Zimbabwe before the end of this month on a fact-finding mission following the January violent protests, which were instigated by the MDC-Alliance and its partners, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).
The protests led to the loss of life and destruction of property.
Business groups forecast that they lost more than US$500 million in unrealised opportunities during the January 14 to January 16 demostrations.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs permanent secretary Mrs Virginia Mabhiza told The Sunday Mail that the rapporteur was expected this month.
“We extended an invitation to several human rights groups and organisations . . . Provisionally, the visit was set for May and we believe that they will be coming this month,” said Mrs Mabhiza.
“We have a lot of organisations that have requested to visit us and see how we are implementing social and economic rights here, and these have to do with things such as health, water and sanitation.
“We have invited them to come in since we do not have anything to hide and we are opening up to the world.
“But in the case of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, their request to visit was prompted by the January 14 incidents, where there were riots in some parts of the country,” she said.
Government, she added, has, however, made “both verbal and written submissions to the UN about all these issues”.
And the submissions have reportedly been well received.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi met the UN Human rights chief Michelle Bachelet during the 40th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, in February, where he extended an invitation to the envoy.
Minister Ziyambi also briefed her on the opposition-sponsored violent riots that erupted in some urban centres in January.
Government had to invoke the Public Order and Security Act to quell the disturbances.
The internet was also temporarily cut to throttle communications from organisers of the violent protests who were using social media platforms to stoke protests.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade permanent secretary Ambassador John Manzou confirmed the visit by the UN rapporteur.
But the itinerary for the delegation was yet to be finalised.
“Yes, they requested to come in May but a date has not been set as yet.
“We have to get in touch with Geneva this coming week to polish the rough edges and finalise everything about the visit, but, yes, they are coming.”
Zimbabwe is presently on a diplomatic offensive to integrate the country, which has been isolated for more than two decades, into the global family of nations.
At the recent African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) bi-annual meeting in Egypt, the country pledged to table its state party reports on human rights before the organ’s plenary in September.
A similar report was last tabled in 2006.
ACHPR – which was established by the African Charter and inaugurated in 1987 – is a quasi-judicial body tasked with promoting and protecting human rights and collective (peoples’) rights throughout the African continent.
The new administration will soon table a slew of legislative and Constitutional amendments that are designed to deepen political, economic, social and electoral rights.
The Cabinet Committee on Political and Electoral Reform has already produced a working document outlining reforms prescribed by some election observer missions, the Motlanthe Commission and the ongoing political dialogue.
Once approved, Government will then expeditiously roll out the reforms.