Zanu-PF hijacks UN’s Zim visit

2012-05-26 15:32

United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay had to break away from her state-appointed aide in Zimbabwe this week to meet legitimate civil society bodies after the government barred them from meeting her.

Pillay was invited by the government to assess the human rights situation.

After she arrived on Sunday she was kept close to Secretary for Justice David Mangota.

Deputy Minister of Legal affairs Obert Gutu, from the Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai (MDC-T), was sidelined from the proceedings by Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa, from Zanu-PF.

Bogus organisations were invited to a Zanu-PF-arranged meeting for Pillay and civil society organisations at Parliament.

But the stunt was shortlived as Gutu discovered the venue of the meeting. At the meeting Chinamasa suggested Zimbabwe was peaceful.

“Her (Pillay’s) programme was kept secret from me because they did not want me to attend her briefing with the minister. I found out about the so called meeting and I blew the whistle,” said Gutu.

Organisations such as the unknown Federation of Non-Governmental Organisations said human
rights violations were a mere fabrication of British-funded civic groupings and the MDC-T.

But legitimate organisations castigated the way Pillay’s visit was being handled.

“The visit is not meant to be a stage-managed process where state representatives take the UN high commissioner through a guided tour to meet people who give a glorified and sugar-coated account of the human rights situation in Zimbabwe,” their statement said.

Eventually Pillay walked to the offices of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, where the major civic
groups had gathered.

Spokesman Abel Chikomo said they managed to give Pillay a detailed account of the human rights situation.

“We spoke about the current position whereby the military is getting actively involved in politics, the state of the Human Rights Commission Bill, the constitution-making process and political violence,” Chikomo said.

During her visit, the former South African high court judge met President Robert Mugabe, and reportedly told him he should ensure Zimbabwe has violence-free elections.

During her meeting with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Tsvangirai reportedly said he believed the country’s human rights situation had improved.

But civil society organisations conveyed a different opinion when they met Pillay.

At the end of the tour the official government position was that there were no human rights violations in Zimbabwe.

Pillay is expected to deliver a speech on the matter early next week.

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