10 December 2022: The Legal Resources Foundation joins the world in commemorating Human Rights Day under the theme “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All” #StandUp4HumanRights. Annually, the world commemorates Human Rights Day on 10 December as a recognition of the universality of rights and freedoms that are inherent to humanity. This Day provides everyone with the opportunity to reflect and commit to promoting human rights in accordance with the auspices of the Universal Declaration of Rights (UDR).
The UDR endorses the indivisible and inalienable nature of human rights as a bedrock of freedom, justice and peace. Governments acknowledged the dictates of the UDR and committed to upholding human rights by ratifying international and regional instruments such as the Convention against Torture and other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) amongst others.
Zimbabwe’s progressive constitution contains a Declaration of Rights which recognizes the fundamental rights and freedoms of every citizen in relation to political, social, economic, environmental and cultural life. Enshrined in the Constitution are the rights of access to basic health care services including sexual and reproductive health care, the right to safe and clean water and the right to food and shelter. It is concerning that these socio- economic rights are not being realized as ordinary people are bearing the brunt of the public health burden, poor service delivery, lack of access to potable water and food insecurity. Public health institutions are failing to provide basic health care services and sadly, people are dying of curable and preventable diseases. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development allocated 11 percent of the total 2023 annual national budget towards health yet the amount is four percent behind the Abuja Declaration stipulated level. The country’s health system needs to be prioritized as it requires adequate financing and resources so that ordinary people can have access to basic health care.
The economic downturn and soaring inflation currently at 255 percent have resulted in the high cost of living and adversely protracted the suffering of many Zimbabweans where an estimated 90 percent of the populace is surviving through the informal economy. Breadwinners are struggling to cater for the welfare of their families which includes providing food, shelter and education. The government’s social safety nets are insufficiently addressing the needs of the majority of citizens to ease their burden of economic deterioration.
Water and sanitation crises owing to poor social services delivery have exposed people to countless health related and security risks. The majority of people in urban, peri urban and rural settings are having to resort to fetching water from unsafe sources and increasing their risk of contracting waterborne diseases such as typhoid. Access to water challenges have immensely fueled gender-based violence with women and girls being sexually and physically abused while in search of the precious resource. Gender based violence remains a pandemic as it infringes on human rights and women and girls remain the most affected. The Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises revealed that 58 percent of 435 rape cases that were reported between January and September 2022 involved minors and of the 1038 domestic violence cases reported, casualties were mostly women.
We therefore urge the Zimbabwean government to promote the “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All” by executing provisions in the Bill of Rights.
We urge the government to adhere to the dictates of the Constitution and Universal Declaration of Rights to protect and advance the rights of citizens. The realization of political, social, economic, environmental and cultural rights will contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
We call on the government to facilitate the rule of law by permitting civil society organizations to independently deliver on their mandate. Civil Society Organizations complement government efforts and assist communities to realize their socio-economic rights.
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LRF PROMOTING HUMAN RIGHTS AND ACCESS TO JUSTICE