If the party does institute any of the reforms, the analysts believe they would be cosmetic and not adequate for the holding of free and fair elections.
Zimbabwe has witnessed gross violation of human rights, including murder and torture dating back to the pre-independence era.
But it came as a surprise that government, accused of being the chief perpetrator of the violations, had invited Pillay for a five-day fact-finding mission last week.
Justice and Legal Affairs minister, Patrick Chinamasa, said the government invited her to prove that the country had nothing to hide. Political analyst, Dewa Mavhinga said the visit would keep the international spotlight on urgently-needed reforms such as a new constitution, confirmed in a referendum followed by credible, non-violent, free and fair elections.
He said it was likely that her recommendation for the operationalisation of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), whose mandate focuses only on present and future abuses, would be acceptable to Zanu PF. The party has made it clear it does not want past violations to be investigated.
However, Mavhinga fears that the party would not change much as a result of the visit.
He said the party would instead attempt to twist and manipulate Pillay’s words, especially her call for the suspension of sanctions until elections and reforms outcomes were clear, to make it look like an affirmation that there were no human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
“Zanu PF is likely to continue with its push for elections this year in the absence of credible reforms,” he said. “The party will undoubtedly refuse to amend the various pieces of draconian legislation that Pillay has pointed for urgent repeal. Whatever changes we are likely to see will be cosmetic rather than fundamental.”
Mavhinga said Pillay’s recommendation for securocrats to observe strict political neutrality would be ignored by the extremely partisan and politicised leadership of the military.
Media freedom activist, Gift Mambipiri said Pillay’s remarks confirmed that freedom of expression was a fundamental human right which the Government of National Unity was trampling upon.
“We acknowledge her good reading that the Broadcasting Authority and the Zimbabwe Media Commission fixation with control and emasculating the media is retrogressive and has no place in modern society,” he said.
Mambipiri said the call to repeal the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and Broadcasting Services Act was welcome and the challenge was on the GNU to either “shape-up or be shipped out.”
Zim ignored Tibaijuka
Political commentator Blessing Vava said no significant changes should be expected, citing the disregard of the UN special envoy on human settlements Anna Tibaijuka damning 2005 report accusing the government of human rights abuses after Operation Murambatsvina, which displaced over 650 000 people after the destruction of their homes and businesses.
“Nothing changed after Murambatsvina and we even witnessed worse abuses a few years later during the 2008 elections. Abuses will likely continue as we head for another election,” he said.
Social rights activist, Hopewell Gumbo predicted that Zanu PF would test the waters and continue to use violence as the party’s trump card.
Chinamasa slams ‘fiction’
Justice and Legal Affairs minister, Patrick Chinamasa said the government was sincere and would cooperate with the UN, as long as the international body was not influenced by outside forces.
He claimed that most of the reported cases of human rights abuses were fictitious. “We are not a perfect country,” Chinamasa sa-id. “We want our shortcomings to be pointed to us. Where there are violations, people must report to the police rather than wait to present dossiers which are anonymous and have no witnesses and identity of the victims.”
Some of the worst atrocities were committed by the colonial Ian Smith regime which massacred thousands of Zimbabweans in and outside the country.
Pillay said such large-scale killings in the 1980s or the 2008 election violence should never be swept under the carpet and suggested the setting up of a Truth and Reconciliation Committee.
But the Zanu PF government was also accused of killing thousands of people in an army crackdown during the infamous Gukurahundi in Midlands and Matabeleland province in the 1980’s.