Be an active citizen: know your rights

Be an active citizen: know your rights
Published: 10 December 2017 (417 Views)
Today is International Human Rights Day. Zimbabwe is on record for being one of the countries that violate human rights to settle political scores. Very little is done to educate Zimbabwean citizens on Human Rights with some ignorantly professing that Human Rights is a western concept.

Human rights are claims that every human being is entitled to in order to live a dignified life. In Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights it states that, "ALL HUMAN BEINGS ARE BORN FREE AND EQUAL IN DIGNITY AND RIGHTS."

Every Zimbabwean has the right to a dignified life, should have equal access to resources, opportunities and services essential for an adequate standard of living. It's rather unfortunate that most in Zimbabwe, a large percentage of the population lives in poverty and social deprivation which has led to many people normalizing the abnormal and accepting violation of rights as a way of life.

Economic, Social and cultural rights are human rights and should ensure pro-poor, inclusive and sustainable development. These rights were not considered at all in the preparation of the 2019 budget which was presented on Friday. The budget was more about opening up markets with very little connotations to social justice.

The very few Zimbabweans still employed deserve a living wage and decent working conditions. In the budget statement it was stated that,  technically insolvent parastatals will be closed. What happens when the parastatals are closed as there was no budget presented for their packages. Two years down the line Zuva judgement victims are still wrong for their terminal benefits and retirement packages with most of them now living in abject poverty. Former workers of the same parastatals who had their contract of employment terminated by the infamous zuva judgement are struggling to make ends meet. There are no jobs and those who had resorted to vending to sustain their livelihoods are being chased off the streets which has made life generally unbearable and miserable for the unemployed.

The African Charter on Human and People's Rights safeguards the following rights;

1. Right to work (article 15)
2. Right to health (Article 16)
3. Right to Education (Article 17)

Zimbabwe signed this charter on 28 February 1986 and ratified it on 30 August 1986.

The right to health care is essential for one to fully enjoy their right to health. Healthcare must be accessible, available, acceptable and of good quality. Zimbabwe has failed to provide adequate healthcare for the past twenty years in public hospitals which is a gross violation of human rights and their obligation in relation to Article 1 of the African Charter which requires State parties to "recognize" the rights, duties and freedoms enshrined in the charter.

Hundreds die prematurely in our government hospitals due to shortage of critical drugs, shortage of blood, malfunctioning machinery and poor Healthcare. It is our responsibility as active citizens to continue demanding accountability until every Zimbabwean enjoys the right to quality healthcare.

The right to education is a Human Rights on its own. It is a guarantee of being entitled to education that us accessible, affordable and available to everyone. The right to education as enshrined in section 75 of the constitution of Zimbabwe is a fundamental human right necessary for every person to know and be able to demand and assert other human rights. Section 75 further states that in clause 1(a) every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has a right to a basic state funded education, including adult basic education...

Government must pay for basic education and efforts should be made to ensure that all the children gallivanting in the streets are afforded the opportunity to go to school. All children who have been sent away from school should go back to school and those who are engaged in child prostitution and drug abuse should be rehabilitated and taken back to school.

These provisions in the constitution show some of the commitments made by government when if accepted these uman rights instruments such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights.

In conclusion, our right to health is greatly compromised by the dirty, filthy and condemned water that comes out our taps which is a violation of our right to safe, clean and potable water as enshrined in section 77 of the constitution of Zimbabwe. Water is very important for a healthy life. No one can exercise other rights if they do not have right to water. Every Zimbabwean must access clean and safe drinking water and sanitation.

The United Nations also passed a resolution in 2010 recognizing that water and sanitation is a Human right. The government of Zimbabwe has an obligation to provide clean, safe and portable water to every Zimbabwean and must respect the right to water, protect the right to water and the central government and local authorities have a duty to provide clean and portable water in Zimbabwe. Our duty as Zimbabweans is to demand basic human rights to be adhered to. First things first the right to water.

Let us be active citizens and demand our fundamental human rights to be respected and protected.

Linda Tsungirirai Masarira
Human Rights Defender, Aspiring MP Harare Central, Political Activist and Founder and National Coordinator of Zimbabwe Women in Politics Alliance


- Linda Tsungirirai Masarira

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