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Public Outcry as Rights Commission Chair Resigns

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Violet Gonda
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has urged the inclusive government to quickly address the poorly-equipped Human Rights Commission and take seriously issues raised by outgoing chairman Reginald Austin who resigned in protest last Friday.

Professor Austin, a world renowned human rights defender, resigned citing the commission’s lack of independence, among several other reasons.

The commission which was formed in 2009 but only gained constitutional status this year after almost three years of bickering between the political parties in government, still has “no budget, no accommodation, no mobility, no staff and no implementing act or corporate legal status,” according to Austin’s resignation letter published in the state-controlled Herald newspaper.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers For Human Rights said it is deeply disturbed to learn of the resignation of the respected rights commission chair.

ZLHR spokesperson Kumbirai Mafunda told VOA that the latest developments indicate a serious threat to protection of human rights as elections approach.

VOA Studio 7 was not able to get a comment from Professor Austin but Deputy Justice Minister Obert Gutu admits his ministry has failed the commission.
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by: Wilbert Mukori from: Zimbabwe
03.01.2013 23:22
It is not just the ZHRC that is not working; none of the other bodies like Zimbabwe Election Supervisory Commission, the various Media Boards and even the GNU itself are working. Mugabe set them up to give all the outside appearance of a working democratic institution whilst allowing the dictatorship to continue operating as smoothly as ever.

Professor Austin has had the courage to point out that the Emperor is completely naked and by suggesting Government should address the ZHRC's concerns we are suggesting a fig leaf to cover something as insignificant as the knee cap!

This GNU has failed to implement the necessary reforms for free and fair elections and we should demand these are carried out by voting NO to the Copac draft. To let the draft pass and hold elections under these conditions be the biggest act folly since the signing of the GPA!

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