MASVINGO – High numbers of complaint cases regarding unfair distribution of food aid and agricultural inputs are worrying the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commision (ZHRC) since they continue to recur with resources needed for investigations being more than the value of the goods complained over.
This came out at a ZHRC stakeholder meeting on administrative justice mandate held at Flamboyant Hotel recently.
Speaking at the event, ZHRC deputy executive secretary Vengesai Erick Mukutiri said partisan distribution of government resources were giving the commission a headache saying they were spending more resources handling the cases since they are reported everyday
“Partisan and unfair distribution of food aid is giving us headaches, these cases are reported every day and at times we have to be on the ground to do investigations. Oftentimes times we see that the fuel used for the investigations alone has more value than the goods complained over.
“This is the reason why we have traditional leaders here because they are usually involved. We urge you to be fair and non-segregatory. The President is saying leave no one behind but you are busy leaving everyone behind.
“If you are asked to give inputs to farmers just give the farmers, if you don’t then they come to us complaining, we are then forced to initiate investigations but the fuel we use in the investigations is more than the maize seed, which affects us financially, “said Mukutiri.
He also went on to say among other recurring cases were that of traditional leaders who were taking more than the prescribed two years on acting basis before a substantive chief is elected.
In his welcome remarks, the commission chairperson Dr Elasto Hilarious Mugwadi warned traditional leaders against being partisan saying the constitution does not allow them to be active members and to hold any post in politics.
“Traditional leaders are not allowed to be active, members of any political party even holding any position. If one needs to be a chief, he has to relinquish any post. That is what I personally did when I was appointed to the commission, I had my political post in Manicaland but I had to relinquish it a few months after being appointed,” said Dr Mugwadi.
He said the commission said it was in the process of decentralizing and has since decentralized to seven provinces and once they have done with the provinces they will go down to districts to make sure that people have easy access.
He said the commission was yet to get arresting powers and what they simply did was to investigate and give recommendations to relevant authorities like the police or the prosecuting authority.
“We currently do not have arresting powers, we investigate and give recommendations, we work together with the police, the prosecuting authority, and other organs. We also name and shame and this is helpful as individuals and organizations do not want to have a bad record so people rectify their misdeeds. We are however hoping that we will be given the arresting powers,” he said.
The commission took time to explain to stakeholders who were mainly from public institutions, their dual mandate of dealing with human rights issues in the country as well as its public protector role which many didn’t know falls under them.
The Executive Secretary Dr Delis Mazambani said the meeting was meant to explain to stakeholders the commission’s administrative justice role and said ZHRC was responsible for doing an oversight role on service delivery by public institutions.
“The purpose of this meeting is to explain to the public our administrative justice role, we do oversight on service delivery by public institutions and we want them to have an appreciation of our public protector role.
“Were highlighting the manner in which we receive complaints and how we do investigations,” said Dr Mazambani
She went on to say the nature of complaints they receive varies depending on the time saying towards elections there was an influx in politically related human rights violations.
“The nature of complaints we receive vary depending on the time, in the run-up to the 2023 elections there was an influx of politically related human rights violations, political violence, infringement of freedom of assembly among others,” said Dr Mazambani.