On the 12th of March 2020, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) petitioned the parliament of Zimbabwe to extend the nomination period of Commissioners for the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC).
Cognisant of the importance of the Commission in promoting and protecting human rights in the Zimbabwe, the obligation of Parliament to facilitate public involvement in its legislative processes and citizens’ inalienable right to shape the societies they live in; ZimRights appealed to parliament to do the following:
- Extend the period of nominations with a further four weeks from 13 March 2020
- Increase publicity on the nomination process through the use of different languages and media channels
- Make available in marginalised centres the nomination forms commissioners.
It is against that background that ZimRights would like reiterate and note the obligatory nature of section 194 (h), 242(4) and141 (a) of the Constitution on the Parliament in its execution of public administration duties.
No derogation from a practice that promotes transparency, public participation and integrity is justifiable and so ZimRights remained firm in probing Parliament to adhere to principles of good governance during the nomination process, which regrettably, ended without adequate public involvement.
ZimRights regrets that the nominations were done in a manner that did not allow deserving individuals, the voices and wishes of the participating citizenry to be heard and respected in line with Committee on Standing Rules and Orders of the Parliament of Zimbabwe, and as provided for by sections 237, 243 and 244 of the Constitution.
ZimRights’ concern is grounded in its nationwide consultation with members of its structures and the general public, who expressed their unreserved concern. According to the inquiry, the call for nominations was exclusive to linguistic majority; time frames were unreasonably too short for a national inquiry and excluded the marginalized communities who have little or no access to information.
Those consulted indicated that in order for the ZHRC to fulfil mandate, there is need for increased countrywide publicity of the call for nominations to ensure public participation.
ZimRights continues to stand for the voice of communities and to probe parliament to ensure public participation by allowing new nominations to be tendered, especially at this time when Parliament business has been halted.
This will enhance the much-needed broad-based participation, which in turn gives ownership of the human rights agenda to the people with whom the ZHRC is mandated to serve. ZimRights continues to monitor the nomination process to ensure independence, transparency and effective accountability of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission.
To that end, ZimRights insists on calling the parliament to:
- Respect of the voices of the participating public through adhering to the nominations
- Accept new nominations until full parliament business resumes