(Public Statement 3/2017)
Issue Date: 23 February 2017
The President of Zimbabwe shall on Saturday 25 February 2017 be celebrating his birthday in Matabeleland South Province – Matobo District; and it is important for the citizens of Bulawayo, Matobo and other Districts of Matabeleland to know their Constitutional Rights and Freedoms versus this birthday celebration.
Noting that the President’s birthday is a private function and is attended voluntarily by private citizens; Matabeleland citizens should know that according to the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (20) Act 2013, the following rights are guaranteed for them:
- Freedom of Assembly and Association (Section 58)
- No person is supposed to be forced to attend this private birthday function;
- No one is supposed to force your child to attend the function which falls outside the school curricula;
- No one is supposed to force you to contribute your money, food, vehicle, livestock or any resource to the function. You can either voluntarily donate or voluntarily not donate to the function.
- Freedom of Movement and Residence (Section 66)
- No one should impose a temporary curfew barring you from using Matobos road or passing by the parks area;
- No person can bar you from leaving your home which is close to or in Matobo District or from visiting your friends and relatives in Matobo District.
- Rights of the Child (Section 81)
- No one (including the teacher or headmaster) is allowed to force your child to attend this private event – not even in the name of offering entertainment there;
- Forcing children to attend this private political event will be violating Section 81(1)(h) of the Constitution which says “Every child , that is to say every boy and girl under the age of eighteen years, has the right not to be compelled to take part in any political activity.”
- Freedom of Conscience (Section 60)
- Parents and guardians have the right to agree or to refuse that their children attend this event even though the school claims they should.
- Freedom from forced or compulsory labour (Section 55)
- No person is allowed to force you to offer entertainment services or to offer toyi-toying services to the function against your will.
Anyone who violates these fundamental rights and freedoms to you or your community members is committing a human rights offence and it is your right and duty to report them either to:
- The nearest police station, or
- The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission in the Bulawayo offices.
Please remember that according to the Constitution of Zimbabwe, you have the power to sue the individual who violated your rights even though he/she acted in or on behalf of a group.
The General Secretary
Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights