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    Friday, 20 May 2016

    Human Rights Comm to prosecute people politicising food aid


    – In the first such tough move, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) which has received and dealt with reports of politicians who are politicising food aid will now take such culprits to court, the head of the Commission has said.
    ZHRC chairperson, Elasto Mugwadi told The Mirror that his organisation has already dealt with and resolved a case where a family was denied food aid in Manicaland because of its political affiliation.
    Mugwadi said this in an interview on the sidelines of a public meeting held in Mucheke in Masvingo recently. He said ZHRC was extremely concerned by the discriminatory nature of food aid allocation by some political heavy weights.
    This human right violation was taking place at a time when thousands of Zimbabweans were in dire need of food.
    Commissioner Mugwadi said the Commission was receiving reports of politicisation of food aid and has already dealt with one case of a family in a similar situation in Hauna in Manicaland.
    He said discrimination of people in food aid distribution along political lines was one of the serious violations of human rights prompted the Commission to embark on a nationwide campaign to make people aware of the Commission's work and hear grievances.
    Commissioner Mugwadi said politicians or any distributors of aid discriminating beneficiaries of food aid along political lines would from now on be taken to court.
    Politicisation of food in Masvingo is done openly despite President Mugabe's recent message that every Zimbabwean is entitled to food. In our issue last week, Zanu PF Chiredzi West MP,  Darlington Chiwa openly says the maize that he was distributing in his constituency would not go through constitutionally elected MDC T councillors as the programme belongs to Zanu PF and this is despite the fact that all food aid is being distributed through councillors.
    Speaking at Mucheke Hall Commissioner Mugwadi said his commission has rolled out a nationwide campaign to familiarise all Zimbabwean citizens with the commission and enlighten people on what they should do whenever their rights are violated.
    "The ZHRC which has two regional offices in Bulawayo and Harare is one of the independent commissions established by the State. Its functional role is to strongly guard against violation of human rights at all levels.
    "We are mandated to take those who violate others' rights to courts. A total of 558 complaints of human rights abuses have so far been received by the commission through its human rights partners since 2014 when commissioners were appointed.  Over 200 complaints were directly received by the commission. To date, 82% of these cases have been resolved either by way of writing petitions or lobbying the State," Mugwadi said.
    He said some of the heart-rending reports that the commission has so far received include the case of Bindura prisoners who were not being given clothing ,and the case of a family in Hauna area in  Mutasa  district which was denied relief food on grounds of political affiliation.
    "We immediately intervened and both cases were resolved amicably," Mugwadi said.
    ZHRC was expecting a budget of US$7,5million for conducting human rights programmes this year, but only US$1,3 million was realised from the Government.
    Mugwadi told the Mirror that the Commission eventually sourced another US$1,4 million from international human rights partners which include the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Danish Government.local news
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