Thursday, June 1, 2023

Consider citizens’ voice in Covid-19 policy formulation-ZimRights urges lawmakers

Tinaani Nyabereka

Gweru- ZimRights last week challenged lawmakers to prioritize consultation of the public in policy formulation processes in future to ensure the input of the general populace is taken on board.
As part of engagement with various stakeholders and office bearers in the Midlands province on a Covid-19 assessment programme that was set to establish strategies and mechanisms to combat the pandemic in the near future, ZimRights highlighted that a lot of human rights were violated during the Covid-19 lockdown periods, hence the need for lawmakers to incorporate voices of ordinary people they represent through consultation.
Addressing stakeholders at the engagement in Gweru last week, ZimRights Director Dzikamai Bere said it was prudent for legislators to interrogate and draft policies which carry the voice of citizens in most decision making processes.
“We know Covid-19 ravaged our community and we saw how the security sector responded in line with the enforcement of the regulations and restrictions.
“We then want to bring dialogue and understand how our lawmakers can be essential in order to restructure the relationship between our security and the people for future purposes,” said Bere.
Findings presented by ZimRights in Covid-19 Assessment report revealed that after the Covid-19 induced lockdown, people were afraid to work hand in hand with their security sector.
“We want the relationship between people and their security to have a democratic enhancement for our country to develop. The security is there to protect its people and people need it. As the constitution charges you to make laws as legislators, kindly take the voices of citizens as they are crucial in nation building,” he said.
Bere added that legislators and councillors were however tasked to establish solutions as the community’s survival depended on a well-crafted policy framework.
“There is political paralysis in our leadership because there is no political will. We need to guard against political paralysis. By raising a point and debating motions in parliament and council chambers, you are advocating for people’s rights. Leaders are called to find solutions and it is important for our legislators and councillors to find solutions to the challenges we are facing,” added Bere.
Ward 18 councillor John Manyundwa said the implementation of Covid-19 measures in communities was difficult as community leaders were excluded in Covid-19 taskforces.
“The implementation of the Covid-19 measures was very hard for us as councillors in our various wards because we were not involved in most decision making processes. Even the Mayor himself was not part of the Covid-19 taskforce. As a result, the local authority lacked adequate information on how processes were supposed to go about.
“More so, lack of information affected our communities, as councillors we were never part of the vaccination campaigns. Remember a lot of misinformation and disinformation hindered the vaccination exercise .As leaders, we couldn’t build confidence in the people since we didn’t know what to say regarding the vaccines,” he said.
Ward 10 councillor Charles Chikozho added that most council operations were crippled by the pandemic.
He added that a lot of people felt the statutory instruments were imposed to suppress them during the lockdown.
“During lockdown one way or the other people in our various constituencies felt that the so called “statutory instruments” were used to suppress them. People couldn’t go to town to buy food or medicine at one point. We know the lockdown was imposed at the appropriate time but there was need for government to prepare citizens to sustain themselves.
“We wrote names of people for distribution of food and safety cushion monies as community leaders but nothing materialized. Up to date we don’t even know how the process ended. People were at loggerheads with us as community leaders as they demanded answers,” said Chikozho.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (Midlands chapter) and ZimRights member Rebecca Butawu further pointed that it was crucial for lawmakers and regulators to be human-centred.
“May our regulators and lawmakers be human-centred as they craft the country’s laws and always consider the importance of conducting consultations whenever a pandemic looms,” she urged.
Member of Parliament for Mkoba constituency Amos Chibaya said failure to implement the national constitution had affected most governance processes.
“We are where we are because the state of our society greatly oppose democratic principles. We need the constitution to be implemented so that most processes work for people,” he said.
Gweru Urban Member of Parliament, Brian Dube however said it was unfortunate to note how some positions of authority were using the legislative framework to move wrong motions.

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