Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa said his party and government had nothing to hide on its human rights record and UN Commissioner, Navi Pillay’s visit was supposed to endorse this view, but in the end the party was left licking its wounds after the she gave a damning report.
“Chinamasa’s assessment was misplaced. He thought their house was in order and he underestimated civil society’s ability to document human rights violations,” Dumisani Nkomo, from Habakkuk Trust in Bulawayo said.
Nkomo said what probably shocked Chinamasa and Zanu PF more, was the manner in which Pillay’s report was detailed, covering even the Gukurahundi massacres of the 1980s.
“Who would have thought that Gukurahundi would come up? She covered everything including the (army) generals’ involvement in politics and this left Zanu PF shocked,” he said.
Nkomo said Zanu PF had expected to give Pillay a sanitised look at Zimbabwe by organising meetings with briefcase non-governmental organisations, which were supposed to absolve the party of human rights violations.
The political analyst praised Pillay for being balanced and objective in her assessment and seeing beyond Zanu PF’s charade.
Nkomo said the human rights situation in Zimbabwe had fallen off the international radar, as there were more pressing issues like the ones in Somalia, Sudan and the DRC.
But he was hopeful that with Pillay’s visit, more attention would be focussed on the Zimbabwe situation in Zimbabwe.
He said while there had been an improvement in the human rights situation in the country, there was still a lot to be done and Pillay’s visit might just be the tonic Zimbabwe needed.
“The visit was significant because Pillay is the UN’s point person on human rights and this means that the United Nations is watching,” Nkomo continued.
Charles Mangongera, a political analyst concurred, saying Zanu PF had tried to shepherd Pillay to certain places, so she would not get the complete picture.
“The visit was in a way stage-managed and I think she would have got more information had she come on her own rather than being brought in by the Zanu PF government,” he said.
“But she made some useful observations, touching on the military and asking the parties in the inclusive government to come up with a framework on election.”
Mangongera said the visit showed that Zimbabwe was still on the global agenda and with pending elections, more eyes will be fixed on the country in the hope that violence will be stemmed.
“There is a resurgence of violence and even immediately after her visit, there was a politically motivated murder in Mashonaland East,” he said.
Both analysts agreed that the commissioner should have also touched on issues such as the selective application of the law, with particular reference to the death of a police officer in Glen View last year. The 29 MDC-T activists accused of murdering the officer are still languishing in custody while police officers who murdered a “defenceless” person in Shamva were awarded a US$50 bail.
Soon after Pillay’s departure, an MDC-T official Cephas Magura (67) was murdered by suspected Zanu PF supporters in Mudzi in Mashonaland East province. Magura is expected to be buried today.