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Activists Urge Harare to Fund Human Rights Commission

Rights activists, November 16, 2012 (AFP)
Activists say it is a shame that institutions, like the Human Rights Commission that was created to ensure rights abuses are abolished in Zimbabwe, do not receive enough money from the government to properly support their work.

Last week commission chair Jacob Mudenda told a parliamentary committee that his commission's work was being compromised by the lack of funds.

Mudenda said commissioners, who do not have proper offices, were using their own vehicles and working on faith that one day they will receive funds from the government. He said the law also needs to be changed to allow the commission to be more independent from government, adding that government should only have oversight of the body's finances, not its investigations.

“We use our own vehicles or public transport, something that is not right for this highly esteemed institution,” he said.

Former commission chairman Reggie Austin resigned late last year citing lack of independence and government support.

The enactment of the Human Rights Act was expected to see the beginning of investigations into rights violations in the country after February 2009 but lack of resources has hampered the commission's efforts.

Democracy and governance manager Joy Mabenge, of the Institute for a Democratic Alternative Zimbabwe (IDAZIM), says the government should do more to support such important institutions.

"Resourcing such important constitutional commissions is a matter of political will and what is needed is more the political will than the actual ascendence to the new constitution," said Mabenge.

Zimbabwe's parliament last week approved the country's new constitution, sending the document to President Robert Mugabe to sign into law.

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