As Zimbabwe is experiencing civilian protests in demand to justice, human rights, development and end to corruption, Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights has a special message to the Zimbabwean government and the citizens thereof:
TO THE CITIZENS
1. The Constitution of Zimbabwe (No. 20) ACT 2013 in Chapter 4 Section 59 gives you the citizens “the right to demonstrate and to present petitions, but these rights must be exercised peacefully”
For that reason we urge you to exercise your right to demonstrate peacefully, try to refrain from the temptation to burn buildings, beat-up people and loot shops because it is uncivil.
2. The same Constitution that gives you the right to demonstrate and petition in Section 58 says “Every person has the right to freedom of assembly and association, and the right not to assemble or to associate with others” and further says “No person may be compelled to belong to an association or to attend a meeting or gathering.”
We therefore encourage you not to force people to attend your demonstrations and not to beat, stone or kill those that do not want to be part of your actions because you will be held accountable as individuals.
TO THE GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE
1. We encourage the government to recognize and respect the rights of the Citizens as espoused in the Constitution especially Section 58 and 59.
2. We also encourage the state not to adopt radical extremist punitive approaches of quelling these demonstrations by unleashing state security to beat-up the demonstrators because such an action will further fuel the crisis. Instead the state is Constitutionally obliged to listen to the people’s concerns and fulfill them.
3. The state and all its arms need to remember that the citizens are using technology to document everything happening and any undue citizen human rights violations will be documented and the individual state agents or leaders involved will be held individually liable and accountable one day.
Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights is an independent human rights think tank that believes every citizen should enjoy and exercise their rights freely (including the rights to demonstrate and petition) in a peaceful and non-violent manner.