- Last Updated on 10 December 2010
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End discrimination NOW!
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition joins the world in commemorating the International Human Rights Day under the theme 'Human Rights defenders who act to end discrimination' and calls upon the inclusive government of Zimbabwe to end discrimination NOW as it impacts negatively on social cohesion and peaceful co- existence among citizens.
Article 23 of the Zimbabwean Constitution speaks against discrimination on any grounds. Article 23:1b states that, 'No person shall be treated in a discriminatory manner by any person acting by virtue of any written law or in performance of the functions of any public office or any public authority'. Despite the existence of this provision, public officials in Zimbabwe particularly from ZANU PF continue to issue discriminatory statements and hate speech against Zimbabweans exercising their fundamental rights among them 'white' Zimbabweans and LGBTIs (Lesbians, Gays, Bi-Sexuals, Inter-sexed and Transvestites). This has resulted in intimidation and victimisation of these groups by ordinary citizens particularly ZANU PF supporters during national processes such as elections and the constitutional review process.
Racism and racist slurs targeted at white Zimbabweans do not have a place in a progressive and open society such as the one that we all strive for. The policy of reconciliation pronounced by then Prime Minister, Robert Mugabe in 1980 was simply cosmetic as ZANU PF continues to infringe on the rights of 'whites'. The chaotic land grabs, which ZANU PF claimed were initiated to address past imbalances, were nothing short of racist and an infringement of the property rights of Zimbabweans. The hatred exhibited during the chaotic process cascaded to the constitution making process where, in Rhodesian style, ZANU PF supporters forcibly ejected whites from meetings, negating the whole reconciliation mantra adopted after independence. What is more disturbing is that the government churns out hate speech targeted at whites which promotes intolerance and has the potential to cause retribution against Zimbabweans. In December 2000, President Robert Mugabe was quoted as saying, 'Our party must continue to strike fear in the heart of the white man, our real enemy!'. This statement posed a danger to the citizens of our country and ultimately led to discrimination and intolerance. END DISCRIMINATION NOW!
Apart from discriminating on the grounds of race, the government of Zimbabwe remains intolerant to LGBTIs negating their right to enjoy freedoms of choice, association and expression. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is unacceptable in a civilised community and should be discouraged by public officials. Hate speech levelled against LGBTIs has led to their further discrimination by other members of society even in public institutions which include hospitals. Furthermore, the constitution making process which was supposed to embrace all Zimbabweans without discrimination was turned into a warfare against LGBTIs with public officials including the COPAC co- Chairperson, Paul Mangwana quoted as saying these rights would not be included in the constitution.
Over the past year, human rights defenders who advocate for LGBTI rights have been harassed, arrested and their offices raided under unclear circumstances. In March 2010, President Mugabe and Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai were quoted in the public media as saying, "That issue is not debatable, it's not up for discussion. It is just madness, insanity. The ancestors will turn in their graves should we allow this to happen' and that, 'Women make up 52% of the population ... There are more women than men, so why should men be proposing to men? I totally agree with the president'. Such remarks by public officers are not only irresponsible but encourage prejudice against LGBTIs. The Coalition urges the Inclusive Government to halt its war of attrition that seemingly targeted at ordinary members of society as can be seen through the systematic attacks on LGBTIs. END DISCRIMINATION NOW!
The promotion of discrimination by government goes against the constitution of the country, regional and international statutes to which Zimbabwe is a state party. Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that 'Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.'
The Coalition demands that the inclusive government ends discrimination NOW and promotes peaceful co- existence among communities by discouraging hate speech and any acts of bigotry against citizens practising their fundamental freedoms.
Issued by: Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
Contact Person: Phillip Pasirayi, Spokesperson, Mobile: +263 772697782