Zim rights chief: Funding woes hamper operations

2014-10-22 12:38

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Harare - Zimbabwe's human rights agency, created five years ago to curb rights violations, on Tuesday said its operations had been hamstrung by a severe cash crunch.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission has received less than 10% of its budgetary needs, its chief Elasto Mugwadi said.

It initially asked for $7.5m from the state but was told it could only have $2m. And it has only got 32% of that $2m so far.

"So you can see that it's a paltry amount," Mugwadi told a news conference in Harare.

"We just hope that there will be an improvement that will enable the commission to discharge its duties."

The commission was set up in 2009 as part of a raft of reforms agreed by the country's then power-sharing government comprising President Robert Mugabe and his foe Morgan Tsvangirai.

Human rights and freedoms

It is tasked with probing rights abuses and protecting all human rights and freedoms. It is also authorised to inspect prisons and detention centres and make recommendations.

Mugabe has been in power since 1980 and has long avoided appointing a successor. Critics accuse him of stifling democracy and suppressing all dissent to his rule.

The commission's first chairperson, Reg Austin, resigned last year in protest at the lack of resources and inhibiting laws.

Mugwadi said the United Nations Development Fund, the European Union and the Danish embassy had chipped in with some funding for the commission, which until recently did not have proper offices.

Zimbabwe's first ever human rights body is however prohibited from investigating rights abuses that occurred before 2009 when over 300 opposition supporters were killed in election-linked violence.

Opposition leader Tsvangirai has blamed the killings on Mugabe's Zanu-PF ruling party supporters and state security agencies.

Read more on:    un  |  zanu-pf  |  morgan tsvangirai  |  robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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