Cathy Buckle :Funny, we thought it was about human rights.

Dear Family and Friends,

It’s been a roller coaster week in Zimbabwe with major developments
which will have a huge impact on the future of the country making news
every day. First came news that a Zimbabwean woman who admitted to
being actively involved with Zanu PF gangs and beating farm workers
during two farm invasions has been denied refugee status in the UK. At
the UK Appeal Court, the Secretary of State found that the woman’s
actions amounted to ‘crimes against humanity,’ were deemed to be
‘inhumane’ and determined the woman should be “excluded from
refugee status.” This ruling has shown Zimbabwe the way.

Then came more good news. A leaked report from a chapter in our draft
constitution, which has still not been released, apparently states
that every Zimbabwean by birth will retain their citizenship even if
they have subsequently taken foreign citizenship. It’s hard to
believe that we might be taking such a progressive step in our new
constitution. It is one which acknowledges that a large proportion of
our population is in the Diaspora and reminds us how much work,
lobbying and petitioning has gone on by people outside the country.
For this we thank them. Most estimates put the number of Zimbabweans
who have fled the country in the last decade at three to four million
– more than a quarter of our total population. This dual citizenship
story is far from over because voting rights for Zimbabweans by birth
but now classed as ALIENS, both living at home and in the Diaspora,
are not automatically guaranteed until amendments are made to the
Electoral Act.

Next came sad news. After two years of delays, parliament finally
passed the Human Rights Bill which will allow our established but
impotent Human Rights Commission to investigate human rights abuses.
The passing of the Bill should have been cause for huge celebration
but in fact it came with a proviso which has left us saddened,
disgusted and feeling betrayed. The proviso to the Human Rights Act is
that the Human Rights Commission will be barred from looking into any
human rights atrocities committed before February 2009. These
atrocities, spanning decades and involving multiple thousands of
people, will apparently be dealt with in a yet to be crafted piece of
legislation by some yet to be identified institution at some yet to be
specified time in the future. MDC MP’s were quoted as being
delighted with the passing of the Human Rights Bill. One MDC MP said
that people should ‘take solace’ because any violations in the
next election would be dealt with. “We are fighting to win an
election,” he said. Funny, we thought this was about justice for
victims of human rights atrocities, not winning elections. The new
Human Rights Act is small comfort for people whose loved ones are in
their graves or for victims who still see their tormentors walking
free on the streets amongst them.

The roller coaster came to a juddering stop with the rumour that the
EU are apparently considering dropping the last of their targeted
sanctions against a hundred odd individuals in Zimbabwe. The rumour
was denied but as we know so well here, there’s no smoke without
fire. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy 14th July 2012.

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