Published On: Wed, Jan 4th, 2017

Anti-Robert Mugabe Protests Hailed

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By Lizwe Sebatha
HUMAN rights lawyers have hailed the emergence of social movements in 2016 such as Tajamuka/Sesijikile and This Flag among others in leading anti-government protests, saying this showed citizens’ will to claim their democratic rights under difficult circumstances.

Several social movements and pro-democracy groups were formed last year, rallying citizens to participate in anti-government protests, which were however met with brute force by state security agents, particularly the police.

In its 2016 end of year report on the human rights situation in the country, Abammeli Human Rights Lawyers Network said participation in anti-government marches and protests was a necessary action to ‘reclaim their rights’.

“Policy inconsistence and some unfriendly policies by government have been major culprits which forced citizens to rise and claim their rights. Fortunately the citizens managed to gather and mobilise themselves without any civil society cohesion or push.

“From a positive point of view the citizens have galvanised themselves and are now able to stand for themselves and articulate their issues,” Tineyi Mukwewa, the Abammeli Human Rights Lawyers Network programmes coordinator said in the organisation’s 2016 end of year report.

Mukwewa also hailed ordinary Zimbabweans, civic groups, churches and opposition parties for lodging several court challenges against government to force President Robert Mugabe’s administration to abide by the constitution.

Sadly, Mukwewa added, Mugabe showed intent to subvert the rule of law after he lashed out at the country’s judges for allowing demonstrations against his government by opposition parties and pro-democracy groups, saying there was a broader plot to topple liberation movements in the region.

Mukwewa said: “All the same, we applaud the citizens for their unwavering ability to test the Constitution of Zimbabwe by taking matters to court and having the court to determine the issues. We also want to applaud a number of civic society organisations that have played a part in protecting and promoting human right.”